story of four stranded nuns"
Please click on the below link. This is
the final edit of the presentation reel in support of 'Trapped in
Paradise' - it is muchchanged from the previous version.
Please note: This is a 'backgrounder' device meant only to position
the main story points for those unfamiliar with the events. It is
designed as a conversation starter for potential underwriters and to
a limited degree - media.
Thanks to those having contributed comments or observations from
Nuclear submarines a
critical component of defense strategy
By Doug Walker, DWalker@RN-T.com
Jul 14, 2018
U.S. Navy's nuclear submarine fleet is perhaps the most critical
component to the military advantage the United States still holds
over Russia and other potential adversaries. Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr.
Paul Ebel told members of the Jake Puryear Detachment 1020 of the
Marine Corps League in Rome Saturday that half of the atomic
warheads in the U.S. arsenal are on nuclear submarines that cruise
the oceans undetected for months at a time.
Ebel, who served during the Vietnam war era, explained that
following World War II, it became apparent to military leaders that
having the Russians well aware of where the United States nuclear
arsenal was located created a level of vulnerability that was not
acceptable. The decision was made to move a large percentage of the
warheads to the submarines.
"We are out there with half of our strategic ballistic missile force
at sea where the Russians don't have a clue where we are," Ebel
The retired officer gave
credit to the development of the nuclear submarine fleet to a pair
of naval leaders, Admiral William F. Raborn Jr. and Admiral Hyman G.
Raborn helped develop the weapon system, missiles that could be
launched from underwater while Rickover was responsible for the
propulsion system that still allows U.S. nuclear submarines to
maneuver virtually undetectable in waters around the globe.
Ebel said Rickover served active duty in charge of the nuclear
propulsion system until he was 78 years old and was in such personal
control of the submarine fleet that he personally interviewed each
and every midshipman that was going to be in the engineering service
assigned to the fleet.
"He was going to control that, the bottom line was he wanted to make
sure every officer that came aboard that submarine would follow his
instructions and wouldn't go off and do something nutty with his
reactor," Ebel said. "We have been running reactors for 60 years
now, perfectly safe, we haven't had any nuclear accidents. It's been
marvelous safety because we've all followed the rules."
Ebel described his patrols as 70 day missions where the subs would
virtually never surface.
"You've got to have a certain personality to make it," Ebel told the
During one particular
mission, Ebel recalled that his boat was assigned to move from the
Mediterranean to the coast of Israel during the Six Day War, but
that a Russian sub was on patrol blocking the shallow water
departure route south of Sicily.
"He doesn't hear us so we suddenly decided we'll go across. For some
reason he turned around early and ran into us," Ebel said. "Luckily
he didn't hit us right on. He lost his rudder and propeller and had
The George C. Marshall Ebel was assigned to managed to stay
submerged, with damage to about a quarter of its ballast tanks.
"They didn't know what they hit. They never heard us. If he hears ya,
he's not going to hit ya."
Later, Ebel's crew
discovered that the propeller of the Russian sub was stuck in the
superstructure of the Marshall.
Another story Ebel mesmerized
the Marines with was about how a fast-attack submarine followed a
Russian submarine for about a month.
“We followed him out around Okinawa, but every day we had to report
to Washington where we were," Ebel said. The only way they could do
that, at that time, was to surface and put the periscope with an
antenna attached up.
"He was looking around and you know what he looked at, another
periscope. They were so close, we were within 500 feet of the
Russian submarine. Boop, both of us went down and that was the last
we saw of him," Ebel said.
The retired officer said that communications issues has long since
Ebel said as far as he knows
today, the Russians are the only other superpower with strategic
weapons on submarines.
"The advantage we have is that we still have better technology than
the Russians. We can hear them further away and that's a big
advantage, Ebel said.
remarkable story of four stranded nuns, a remote island and a heroic
A Submarine Survival
Guide for Junior Officers
After 27 years of service on
submarines and two tours of duty as a chief of the boat (COB), I
have seen my fair share of new officers check on board for duty. By
the time most are ready to load out their sea bags and head down the
pier, they have been mentored and guided by many. But how many have
stopped and asked a chief petty officer (CPO), “What is expected of
me?” The following advice
from senior enlisted submariners is designed to help junior officers
(JOs) fit in and contribute during their first tour on a submarine.
The first thing a new officer should do after receiving orders to a
submarine is read them. On the first page, there will be contact
information for the new command. Contact them and ask a few
questions. What uniform is required at check in? Where do you go
when you get to the base? Will the boat be in her home port, and, if
not, where do you go?
Your new executive officer (XO) cannot read your mind. Let him or
her know if you are taking leave or if your vehicle breaks down.
Sometimes things do not go according to plan; keep the command
informed, as they have seen many check-in problems before.
A simple phone call to the XO will yield useful information to ease
your transition from student to submarine officer.
The check-in process will reveal a lot of information about you to
the command. Opinions are formed almost instantly, and
you should strive to make a
positive first impression. Have a fresh haircut and a sharp
uniform ready to go. The commanding officer (CO) will shake your
hand and welcome you on board soon after you come down the hatch.
Don’t be an officer who the COB has to send away because you did not
shave well or have a satisfactory haircut. Be sure to project a
Shortly after arriving, you will get a check-in sheet from the
ship’s office. Complete it quickly. You will be tasked with other
duties concurrently, but you still need to complete this process.
Other shipmates will want to welcome you and get you enrolled in
various ship programs. There is little worse for a petty officer
than having to explain to the XO or CO that the new JO is not part
of a program because he or she has not checked in.
Expect to be assigned to a division immediately. Usually new
officers are assigned to an engineering division first. This should
be a relief. You have been trained well to be in the engine room and
most likely will feel comfortable there.
Soon you will meet your
first divisional CPO.
What will daily life be like? Initially, you will be required to
qualify for all watches in the engine room. This process should go
smoothly, as you have done this in nuclear power school. You will be
given qualification goals and assignments by your new department
head. While these qualifications must be completed smartly, there
are others that must be completed at the same time.
“Rig for dive” (RFD) is one of the first qualifications you should
strive to complete. While under way the boat is always rigged for
dive, meaning all the valves and electrical switches are in their
required positions for the watertight integrity and safe operation
of the boat. In the event of a casualty and flooding, the boat must
be able to pump water out and return to the surface if needed. The
chief of the watch maintains the complete status of RFD, and when a
valve, switch, or system is repositioned for any reason, it must be
rigged by a petty officer and verified by an officer. The status of
RFD is briefed regularly to the CO, and you can play an important
part by being available to the watch chief to verify this
expeditiously. Although the newest officers usually complete most of
the RFD process, when you are proactive in helping, it will be
noticed among the crew.
Meeting your new CPO and division should be one of the highlights of
your initial assignment. One of the CPO’s charges is to develop and
train the new officers. You
can learn much about how a submarine operates and functions if you
are willing to participate actively with your division. If
you just blend into the woodwork and hole up in your stateroom, you
will be missing out on learning experiences. You must be motivated
and involved. When you are excited to learn, seek knowledge, and
participate, the crew will notice and be motivated to help you
There are many things you can do to be involved. While in port, the
CO normally will have a night work meeting to discuss priorities for
maintenance. By communicating with your chief before these meetings,
you will be able to speak intelligently at the meeting. It will be
evident that your chief is training you. The CO, XO, and COB will
notice. The command team has heard almost everything before, and if
you try to tap dance your way through a meeting it will reflect
negatively on you.
There are other times throughout the day when you can be involved
with the division. Officers’ call and leading petty officers’ (LPO)
call are held most mornings. These meetings usually are attended by
the XO and COB to discuss shipwide items and priorities. Your
attendance with your chief or LPO is crucial to understanding what
is going on. After officers’ call or LPO call, most boats hold
divisional quarters. This is a time for the entire division to meet
in its space and receive information and tasking on the daily
business. If you are plugged in and contributing, your division will
be impressed and things will go well.
Your division will have all types of work that needs to be
accomplished. Outgoing message traffic requires scrutiny. Every
message released by the command is approved by the CO. Messages from
your command often will be seeking guidance, and if you can help
word them for easy understanding, help can arrive faster.
Equipment tag-outs are a daily chore done by most divisions. To
ensure work on equipment is done safely, there is a detailed
instruction to follow. Two petty officers will write the tag-out and
route it to the duty officer for approval before hanging the tag and
getting the system ready. By inserting yourself in this process you
will learn much about the submarine and its systems. There are miles
of piping, valves, and electrical equipment to be familiar with.
Tagging out these systems is often difficult, and system knowledge
is required to isolate a specific piece of gear. By focusing on the
drawings and schematics, you can provide much-needed backup in this
process and learn how systems work together. Catching an error on a
tag-out before it is routed to the duty officer will save the
division time and will signal to the division that you are there to
Young officers can approach the qualification process in a variety
of ways. One of the most useful ways for a JO to learn is to talk to
watchstanders in their specific spaces about their equipment.
Watching a video on a computer and reviewing a drawing is
encouraged, but talking with the sailor who operates the equipment
is the best source of information. The sailor can answer questions
and provide the deckplate view on how it works and where everything
is located. Always seek knowledge from a qualified crew member
instead of from another ensign who may not have complete system
knowledge. The crew wants to help you pursue qualifications, but you
must reach out and seek their expertise. When you work hard, they
will work hard helping you.
Your first tour on a
submarine will be one of the most memorable experiences in your life.
Strive to talk to every crew member. They are all there to help you
succeed, but you must earn it. Being involved with the enlisted
sailors during maintenance, meetings, and administrative duties and
just talking to them will give you a richer experience, quicken your
qualification process, and build fond memories of your first tour of
duty on a U.S. Navy submarine.
Janowski entered the Navy at Recruit Training Command in Orlando,
Florida, in 1990. His sea duty assignments include: the USS Florida
(SSBN-728 Blue), USS San Juan (SSN-751), USS Frank Cable (AS-40),
USS Ohio (SSGN-726 Gold), and chief of the boat on board the USS
Louisiana (SSBN-743 Gold) and USS Ohio (SSGN-726 Gold). He also
served as command master chief for Submarine Squadron 19.^
sub 'fly-by-wire' tech inspires strategy shift
By Kris Osborn | Warrior Maven
The Navy is expanding its
attack submarine strategy to further emphasize enhanced “spy” like
intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance missions to quietly patrol
shallow waters near enemy coastline - scanning for enemy submarines,
surface ships and coastal threats.
Improved undersea navigation and detection technology, using new
sonar, increased computer automation and artificial intelligence,
enable quieter, faster movements in littoral waters where enemy
mines, small boats and other threatening assets often operate.
submarines are engineered with a “Fly-by-Wire” capability which
allows the ship to quietly linger in shallow waters without having
to surface or have each small move controlled by a human operator.
With “Fly-by-Wire” technology, a human operator will order depth and
speed, allowing software to direct the movement of the planes and
rudder to maintain course and depth, Navy program managers have told
Warrior Maven. The ships can be driven primarily through software
code and electronics, thus freeing up time and energy for an
operator who does not need to manually control each small maneuver.
Previous Los Angeles-Class submarines rely upon manual, hydraulic
technology, using upgradable software and fast-growing AI
applications, widens the mission envelope for the attack submarines
by vastly expanding their ISR potential. Using
real-time analytics and an instant ability to draw upon and organize
vast data-bases of information and sensor input, computer algorithms
can now perform a range of procedural functions historically
performed by humans. This
can increase speed of maneuverability and an attack submarine's
ability to quickly shift course, change speed or alter depth
positioning when faced with attacks.
A closer-in or littoral undersea advantage, Navy strategy documents
explain, can increase “ashore attack” mission potential along with
ISR-empowered anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare operations.
The US Navy’s published “Commander’s Intent for the United States
Submarine Force," published earlier this year, writes - “We are
uniquely capable of, and often best employed in, stealthy,
clandestine and independent operations……. we exploit the advantages
of undersea concealment which allow us to: , Conduct undetected
operations such as strategic deterrent patrols, intelligence
collection, Special Operations Forces support, non-provocative
transits, and repositioning,” the Navy strategy document writes.
The Navy is
implementing elements of this strategy with its recently launched
USS South Dakota, a Block III Virginia-Class attack submarine
engineered with a host of new, unprecedented undersea technologies,
Navy officials said.
Many of these innovations, which have been underway and tested as
prototypes for many years, are now operational as the USS South
Dakota enters service; service technology developers have, in a
general way, said the advances in undersea technologies built,
integrated, tested and now operational on the South Dakota include
quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine
harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional
"quieting" coating materials for the hull, Navy officials have told
While firepower and attack weapons are naturally still a major area
of focus for Virginia-Class submarines, the expanding ISR mission
scope made possible by new technologies has provided key inspiration
for senior Navy developers and members of Congress who have been
working vigorously to increase the size of the attack submarine
Land weapons, port activities and other enemy movements in coastal
or island areas are more difficult for deeper draft surface ships to
access, often complicating surveillance missions – without giving
away their position. Surface ships and the drones or aircraft they
operate could, in a variety of operational environments, be more
“detectable” to enemy radar and sensors when compared to attack
important feature for maneuvering in littoral waters is the
fly-by-wire control system, whereby computers in the control center
electronically adjust the submarine's control surfaces, a
significant improvement from the hydraulic systems used in the
Los Angeles-class,” a 2016 Stanford University “The Future of
Nuclear Submarines” paper by Alexander Yachanin writes.
Next-generation sonar technology, woven into Virginia-Class subs, is
engineered to work in tandem with “Fly-by-Wire” technology to better
identify threats operating at various depths and speed.
The Block III Virginia-Class submarines also have what’s called a
Large Aperture Bow conformal array sonar system – designed to send
out an acoustic ping, analyze the return signal, and provide the
location and possible contours of enemy ships, submarines and other
show off huge nuclear submarine just south of Helsinki as summit
with Trump sails up
The Oscar-II class
vessel is similar to the Kursk that sank in the Barents Sea in 2000.
Thomas Nilsen, The Barents Observer,
Russian navy on Wednesday confirms the participation of
“Orel” nuclear powered submarine
sailing together with the convoy of Northern Fleet warships
en route from Severomorsk on the Kola Peninsula towards St.
“The first group includes the large anti-submarine ship
“Severomorsk” and the nuclear submarine missile cruiser
“Orel”, the press service of
the Northern Fleet says in a note posted on the Defense Ministry’s
portal Wednesday evening.
Also, the recently modernized missile cruiser “Marshal Ustinov” and
the brand new frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” are sailing in the same
navy group, as previously reported by the Barents Observer.
The Russian warships are Wednesday evening in Skagerrak south of
Norway and will during the next 24 hours pass through Storebælt in
Denmark. The route continues south of Bornholm, then north along the
east side of the Swedish island of Gotland before turning east into
the Gulf of Finland.
Arrival in the Gulf of Finland is expected within a few days, the
Northern Fleet writes.
This means Putin will have one of his navy’s largest nuclear-powered
submarines sailing just south of Helsinki either a day or two before
the summit, or about the same time as the historical meeting with
U.S. President Donald Trump takes place on July 16th.
The ships are sailing towards Kronstadt outside St. Petersburg where
they will participate in the annual Navy Parade taking place on July
Warner Returns From Maiden Deployment
Richardson, Navy.mil, July 11
– Sailors aboard the Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine USS John
Warner (SSN 785) were welcomed home from their maiden deployment by
family and friends, when they pulled into Naval Station Norfolk
today. John Warner departed in January on a regularly scheduled
deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
During the course
of sailing over 30,000 nautical miles on their deployment, John
Warner conducted missions in support of theater commanders and
pinned “dolphins” on 11 officers and 22 enlisted crew who earned
their qualifications in submarine warfare.
deployment is an amazing accomplishment for the crew, they really
came together,” said Cmdr. Burt Canfield, John Warner's commanding
officer. “Today is a culmination of not just a lot of hard work on
the individual level, but for the crew itself. Watching those guys
mature together and accomplish the mission is absolutely fantastic.”
Despite it being
John Warner’s maiden deployment, the crew
was ready to
support in all mission areas. John Warner left on deployment in
January and in April she was called upon to conduct combat
“It’s always an
honor to be called on by the nation to do really the most
challenging thing that we can do as a warship, to launch missiles or
torpedoes,” said Canfield. “It is a great honor to have the faith
and confidence of EUCOM and the Combatant Commander for which we
were working. The crew performed as trained, professionally,
efficiently, like clockwork and executed that mission."
the crew was able to enjoy several port visits, including Greece,
Scotland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The submarine also sailed
above the Arctic Circle and inducted 123 Sailors into the “Order of
the Blue Nose,” one of the rarer line crossing events for Sailors.
exciting to have the boat pull back in, we’re definitely ready,”
said Deanna Ashton. “I had butterflies in my stomach, from being
excited for myself and really, really excited for my kids to see
It was a mutual
feeling of elation for both wife and husband as Machinist Mate
(Nuclear) First Class Jonathon Ashton walked down the pier and saw
“When I first saw
my wife and kids, I pretty much wanted to cry,” said Ashton. “It
feels amazing to be back. This is my third deployment but this is
my first time coming back to family waiting for me on the pier, so I
am definitely excited to be home.”
submarines like John Warner have many different types of missions
and are designed to operate in both coastal and deep-ocean
environments. The submarine is capable of conducting anti-submarine
warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special
operation forces (SOF) support; intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions.
USS John Warner is
the 12th Virginia-class attack submarine and first ship to bear the
name of Senator, John Warner. The submarine was built by the
Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton,
Conn., and commissioned August 1, 2015. The 377-foot ship has a
current crew compliment of 15 officers and 117 enlisted Sailors and
displaces more than 7,800 tons of water.
For more on the
U.S. Navy, visit http://www.navy.mil , http://www.facebook.com/usnavy
, http://www.twitter.com/usnavy , or @USNavy on Instagram. For more
news from Commander, Submarine Forces, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/sublant/
Blueback, Portland, Oregon
Posted July13, 2018
While “The Hunt for Red
October” was not filmed in the state of Oregon, the USS Blueback
(submarine) appearing in the movie as the USS Dallas resides there,
berthed at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) on the banks
of the Willamette River. It has recently been listed on the National
Register of Historic Places.
The 219-ft., Barbel class USS Blueback SS-581 was commissioned in
1959. It was the last fast-attack, diesel-powered submarine built by
the U.S. Navy and the last to be decommissioned after serving for 31
The Blueback and her sister ships of the Barbel Class, the Barbel
and Bonefish, utilized post-World War II design features, including
a single propeller and a new “teardrop” shaped hull, which
dramatically increased underwater speed and maneuverability.
The USS Blueback served in the Navy's Pacific Fleet for 31 years. In
September 1961, the Blueback set a record by snorkeling 5,340 miles
from Yokosuka, Japan, to San Diego, California. The submarine
visited Portland for the Rose Festival twice, in 1978 and 1981.
In October 1990, the Blueback was decommissioned in October 1990 and
berthed at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.
After three years of working closely with the U.S. Navy, OMSI
received formal possession of the submarine in February 1994, and
towed her from Bremerton to Portland.
The USS Blueback appeared in the hit movie, “The Hunt for Red
October,” as the USS Dallas. The submarine is shown in one scene
dramatically breaching the surface. Also, shots inside the Russian
Alfa were taken in the Blueback's torpedo room.
Forty-five-minutes guided tours of the submarine are available
during regular museum hours.
The USS Blueback SS-581 joins more than 500 historic Portland
properties listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
OREGON, MULTNOMAH COUNTY,
USS BLUEBACK (submarine),
1495 Water Ave., located on the E. bank of the Willamette River,
Short Sailors' Shore Duty Tours to Fill Gaps at Sea
thousands of critical billets at sea empty, the Navy has begun
pulling sailors off shore tours early to meet the need.
Thursday, the service announced that detailers would be given
the authority to transfer enlisted sailors ahead of their
projected rotation date in order to fill high-priority sea duty
billets in ranks
While sailors have previously been able to volunteer to return
to sea early, this change allows the Navy to transfer them
involuntarily to meet the needs of the service.
the Navy at sea, there are currently 7,642 fill gaps, in which
there is a shortage of a sailor of any ranks in a rating
required aboard a unit; and 15,423 fit gaps, in which there is a
shortage of a sailor in a specific range of
grades for a rating within a unit, said Cmdr. Karin Burzynski, a
spokeswoman for Navy Personnel Command.
Military.com that sailors had already begun to receive
notifications that they were being pulled from their current job
and sent to sea.
to a public announcement and a Navy administrative message,
sailors may be more likely to be selected to fill an at-sea gap
based on a number of factors. Detailers and the Navy will
consider the following:
of time on shore
enlisted classifications held
of previous sea duty
Remaining obligated service
are not eligible for an early transfer unless they've completed
at least 18 to 23 months of shore duty, and will not be moved
from their post until they've finished 24 months, Navy officials
said. And impact of a sailor's departure on his or her shore
duty command will be taken into account as well, according to
exempt from transfer include recruit division commanders,
recruiters, those on brig duty, instructors, and special warfare
operators, officials said.
sailor is transferred to sea, he or she may be required to fill
a vacant billet in a pay band, rather than a single pay grade,
the message said. The pay bands include apprentice (E-1 to E-4),
journeyman (E-5 to
supervisor (E-7 to E-9), meaning that a sailor may be asked to
fill a position above their current paygrade, based on the needs
of the service.
who face adverse effects due to early transfer back to sea must
submit a statement within 15 days of notification describing
intent of this policy change is to improve Fleet readiness,
every effort will be made to minimize the disruption to the
careers and lives of our Sailors and their families," the
NAVADMIN, signed by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert
new announcement is the latest in a series of efforts by the
Navy to fill critical gaps at sea. Last August, the Navy
announced that up to
1,100 chief petty officers might be involuntarily returned to
to fill vacant billets.
Earlier in 2017, the Navy offered about
6,000 first-term sailors
the chance to extend in exchange for continuing to serve at sea.^
Needs People Even More Than Ships
The United States and its
allies have far fewer ships than they did in the 1980s but have
larger commitments. The
number of ships is not the best measure of sea power; the kinds of
ships matter, too. A fleet that has to patrol large parts of
the world needs numbers, however; no ship, no matter how impressive,
can be in two places at once. And in a protracted war, hull
casualties are inevitable. Ships take time to build. An early wave
of losses, such as the United States suffered in the Pacific during
1942, has to be replaced.
The U.S. Navy is overcommitted and could absorb few losses in a
fight with Russia or China before its effectiveness would be reduced
greatly. In the 1980s, it was likely that any crucial crisis would
be the result of action by a single enemy—the Soviet Union. Today,
it would not be difficult to imagine a crisis on the Korean
Peninsula (with nuclear implications) leading to Russia using it as
cover for aggression in Central Europe while China made moves in the
South Pacific and Iran triggered action in the Middle East. Where
would the Navy concentrate? Each player in such a scenario would
benefit from the acts of the others, but there would be no central
controller deciding whether or how to adjust the crisis level.
The Navy has discarded or sold nearly all the ships it once would
have sent to a “mothball fleet” in Texas, California, or
Pennsylvania. Arguments in favor of this policy ranged from the
obsolescence of the older ships to the need to fund new ship
programs such as the littoral combat ships (LCSs) and Zumwalt -class
(DDG-1000) guided-missile destroyers.
Neither program has turned
out as envisioned. The LCS was conceived as a less expensive surface
combatant that could be built quickly in large numbers, but it has
proven to be not nearly as robust as it should have been, and the
projected future frigate probably will be much more expensive than
originally envisioned. This should have been foreseen; it is
extraordinarily difficult to build an inexpensive but survivable and
effective surface combatant.
The Zumwalt s eventually should be both, though the first ship in
commission has suffered from engineering casualties, and its new
guns have been sidelined by the unusually high price of the advanced
projectiles. But it is too expensive ($4.2 billion per unit,
compared to $1.8 billion for a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke –class
guided-missile destroyer), and the planned purchase of up to 32
ships has been reduced to 3.
These points miss an essential reality. The Navy can and should
continue to buy more ships—but ships need sailors, and sailors are
increasingly expensive. The need to reduce manning for each hull has
been the most important factor in ship design in recent years. One
reason ships are driven by gas turbines is that many fewer people
are required to operate them compared to a steam plant. The initial
requirement for what ultimately became the Zumwalt class was not the
stealth that dominates its look but its dramatically reduced crew
size. The Zumwalt has a crew
of around 140–150, excluding its aviation detachment, against a
complement of around 300 for an Arleigh Burke .
The growth of staffs ashore—in response to the requirement set in
the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act that officers spend time on joint
staffs, among other reasons—has exacerbated the personnel crisis.
When that law was being debated in the 1980s, it was pointed out
that in peacetime as in war, the Navy spends more time operating
compared to the Army or Air Force.
It needs line officers more
than it needs staff officers, it was argued, and to treat all the
services identically is to forget that they differ in where and how
they operate. That argument looks prescient in light of today’s
What can be done? Purchase more ships, certainly, but also rethink
how to replace those lost or damaged.
Designs should shift toward more mod-ular ones, parts of
which can be built outside the ever-shrinking number of U.S.
shipyards and then assembled as needed. Shipyards already use
modular techniques, so shifting fabrication of sections to
non-traditional suppliers is not radical.
The United States certainly does have naval allies, but their fleets
also are undercapitalized. It has no potential peer ally like the
pre-1939 British, nor does it have the sort of heavy industry that
in 1940–42 allowed two years of prewar ship construction and
As for personnel, the Navy and Congress must rethink the number and
size of staffs and joint requirements. Changes would allow the
personnel system to be reformed to provide more sea time.
The movement toward smaller crews will continue, in part by
accelerating the shift to more unmanned systems. For example, much
of the crew of an aircraft carrier is needed to maintain the planes
that fly every day to maintain the pilots’ skills. Unmanned aircraft
have no such proficiency requirements, significantly reducing the
need for training flights. This is the direction in which the Navy
should be heading.
• Dr. Friedman is
the author of The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon
Systems, fifth ed., and Network-Centric Warfare: How Navies Learned
to Fight Smarter Through Three World Wars , available from the Naval
Institute Press at
Keyport is home to Navy's
first unmanned undersea vehicle squadron
Julianne Stanford, Kitsap
SunPublished 5:49 p.m. PT July 3, 2018
the past 100 years, Keyport has been home to one of Navy's primary
efforts to research, develop and test torpedoes, which earned the
small, waterfront community the moniker of "Torpedo Town, U.S.A."
Naval Undersea Warfare Center is becoming the modern testing ground
for a new type of technology that silently operates in the depths —
unmanned undersea vehicles, which are known as UUVs.
undersea vehicles are essentially "pre-programmed, small
submarines," said Cmdr. Scott Smith, commanding officer of the
Navy's newly formed Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron 1.
UUVs range from 10-inch torpedo-shaped tubes to large submersibles
more than 80 inches in diameter. Many of the UUVs used at Keyport
are commercially available, from companies like Bluefin Robotics or
Riptide Autonomous Solutions.
Cmdr. Scott Smith
oversees the Navy’s first unmanned undersea drone squadron, based at
The squadron has
been tasked with developing the tactics, techniques and procedures
that will shape how the Navy will use the unmanned undersea
Navy will use UUVs for a variety of missions. Today, they are
capable of reducing the risk to divers in the water and extending
sensory capabilities for underway submarines, Smith said.
"We'll use UUVs in
those areas that are too dangerous to put a manned vessel, and on
the other side, we'll use UUVs where it’s just too mundane for a
long-term mission to keep a sailor out there," Smith said
"Those are really
the two places I see UUVs working, but we'll never replace the
manned systems. In my mind, we’ll always need submarines out there
doing what submarines do."
Navy currently doesn't operate unmanned undersea vehicles from
submarines, but Smith foresees a potential for rapid growth with the
"Five years down
the road," Smith said, "I'd like to see two UUVs on every submarine
in the fleet."
The squadron has
already tested its expertise and training with a few real-world
situations. It has helped to recover a lost item in Sinclair Inlet
that fell over the side of a patrol boat. It assisted the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police track down a misplaced piece of equipment in
the Nanoose Range near Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
instance with significantly higher stakes, a team of six of the
squadron's sailors deployed in December to assist with the
international search and recovery efforts of the Argentinean navy's
lost submarine, A.R.A. San Juan, in the south Atlantic Ocean. The
submarine disappeared Nov. 17 with 44 crew members aboard.
to locate the submarine's whereabouts have been unsuccessful, the
crew was able to provide assistance in the early days of the search
efforts with the UUVs' capability to perform side-scanning sonar,
which uses sonar echoes to create images of large areas of the
Does the Navy
Really Want Innovators?
Undersecretary of the Navy
recently announced the “Education for Seapower” study, a
“clean-sheet review” of Navy education.
His intention is to
stimulate the growth of an “ever-more-agile force—led by people
who thirst for knowledge and are adept at thinking, learning,
and processing information quickly.” This will be achieved
“through a renewed emphasis on education, and the deliberate
construction of a learning culture across the entire naval
service.” Such a culture will encourage our leaders to
prioritize not just thinking, “but thinking differently, and
inspiring innovative minds to break the mold of traditional
It seems like a great
idea. Who would disagree with the value of innovation and
creativity, or self-consciously defend ideas like stagnation and
conformity? Any reflection about how we should go about
educating officers and what we look for in them is welcome.
In recent decades, the
hallmarks of good naval officers have been intelligence,
conscientiousness, and hardiness—qualities not necessarily
associated with open-mindedness or an innovative spirit. In
other words, good officer candidates are not necessarily
people inclined to “think outside the box.” If anything,
they learn to nest snugly inside whatever constraints the
metaphorical box represents. Innovation is disruptive, and
people given to disruptive innovation generally find the
hierarchies and collective values of effective military
“creativity and agility in the human dimension” is a high
priority, it might be helpful to ask how the Navy and Marine
Corps should motivate people selected, educated, and
incentivized to conform to think differently, without
undermining the services’ vital cultures of hierarchy and
cohesion. A few
weeks ago, I spoke with one of the Naval Academy’s most
distinguished recent graduates. His academic record is
flawless; he earned an A in every course he took, and he
tied for first place in the academic order of merit. One of
those As was for a challenging propulsion engineering class.
I was impressed.
“You must know quite a
bit about thermodynamics,” I said.
“Not at all,” he
replied. “I hardly remember anything.”
When I asked if he
thought he could pass a test on the course’s basic material,
“If I had some time to
review first, I could probably manage.” In other words, if
he could relearn the material before taking the test, he
might pass the exam.
Plenty of evidence
suggests that this model midshipman is typical of elite U.S.
Most hardly remember substantive information or correctly
use formulas or techniques from their courses even a short
time after completion. As
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa point out in a penetrating
study, many college students do not improve measurably in
their capacity for complex reasoning, critical thinking, and
written communication. Instead of such “transfer of
learning” effects—how things learned in one intellectual
domain enhance others—research
demonstrates the grim fact that people generally learn very
specific things by practicing them narrowly and
University faculty and
administrators like to believe that graduates “learned how
to think” or “learned how to learn.” As much as it pains
this history professor to admit it, passing through courses
unrelated to targeted skills and competencies does not
convincingly show this. Rather, students perform well
because they have learned the specific things teachers made
a point of, and because the school admitted
high-functioning, conscientious young people who readily
meet short-term expectations.
We cannot prove that
passing four semesters of a foreign language or two
semesters of physics, electrical engineering, or any other
subject makes a 22-year-old a superior aviator, surface
warfare officer, or Marine.
Still, I refuse to
abandon my belief that a Naval Academy education improves
our graduates' intellectual skills. Evidence suggests that
higher education improves somewhat the measured intelligence
of smart people, even if the improvement is difficult to
disentangle from the gains that smart, diligent people
realize just by growing from ages 18 to 22. Our students
seem to read, write, and speak better, and attack mental
problems more rigorously at the end of their educations than
at the beginning. The process itself has value. A Naval
Academy midshipman enters a new classroom with a different
instructor teaching different material to a new mix of
students nearly 50 times. At the least, students learn to
adapt to the progression of pedagogical novelty and cope
with change. At best, students grasp that they have sampled
but the thin edge of intellectual talent and content that a
high-quality institution offers, are humbled by the
complexity of the human condition, and inspired to grow
intellectually for the rest of their lives.
The Navy does not test
graduates in specific ways a year or two after graduation to
determine if they learned anything in the courses they took.
Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the
education of a single midshipmen, it is interesting that the
service conducts no comprehensive, uniform assessment of
intelligence, reasoning capacity, or other specific
intellectual aptitude at the beginning and end of
implication is that the Navy neither wants nor needs the
insights that such assessment would provide, probably
because measurable intellectual aptitudes or specific
knowledge from their courses are not as important as other
things for midshipmen’s potential as officers. Assuming that
students learn less than we think, forget much of what they
putatively learn, and realize uncertain gains in basic
intellectual skills, what justifies their four years at the
Naval Academy? After all, if the education counted for so
much, simple tests would validate their knowledge at any
point in their development or allow the Navy to rely on less
expensive graduates of other institutions.
Something much more
important happens at the Naval Academy. The greater part of
their time at the Academy consists in what education
researchers call “signaling,” or the conveying of
information about the midshipmen’s conformity with norms,
expectations, and assumptions to stakeholders in the
institution who then credential them with a degree. The Navy
interprets the degree as a way to distinguish better officer
prospects from worse.
Consider an easy
illustration. A few weeks ago, a handful of the plebes
(first-year midshipmen) in my naval history class filed into
the classroom carrying their overloaded backpacks like
briefcases. A few virtually dragged them.
“Why on earth are you
dragging those things around?” I asked. “Why not wear them,
like sensible people?”
prohibited us from carrying them on our backs,” one
answered. “We have to lug them around like this. Ugh.”
What kind of person
would follow such arbitrary rules? The kind that the Naval
Academy and military most want. Imagine students at Oberlin
College following such instructions—most ordinary college
students certainly would not.
The Naval Academy
appeals to a certain kind of conformist, a term sure to turn
off anybody steeped in pop-business innovation discourse.
But to the Academy, conformity is a positive attribute. It
refers to people who figured out by their mid-teens that
they value the approval of authority figures in academic,
athletic, and disciplinary ways and who are willing to
demonstrate that they will continue to work for approval.
They can get a college education at lots of institutions.
But at the Academy they invest in the higher idea that duty,
honor, good behavior, discipline, and accountability will
help them achieve positive outcomes together. The Navy tells
them how to wear their hair, which clothes to wear and when,
how to express themselves and interact, and how they will
spend almost all their time.
Midshipmen are not
generally the curious, untraditional, and creative kids who
explore and revel in the speculative, the unfamiliar, or the
mysterious. Indeed, the Naval Academy has devised lots of
ways to filter out those temperamentally disposed to break
apart “traditional paradigms,” as the Undersecretary put it.
The students spend four years demonstrating that they can
conform to the unique demands and expectations of military
leadership—and they get graded on it.
In a popular culture
that worships innovation, creativity, and authenticity—or at
least finds great purchase in the terms themselves—the idea
of conformity seems abhorrent or weak-minded. But conformity
to the norms and values and purposes of our institutions,
especially the U.S. Constitution, is the most important
characteristic of military officers. Conformity is also
essential in the dangerous and difficult work these officers
will perform in demanding and adverse circumstances.
Hierarchies based on lines of authority and shared
assumptions, more rigid than those found elsewhere, are
vital to survival and success.
The surface fleet
appropriately has little tolerance for junior officers
standing bridge watch who disregard inconvenient rules and
make up risky new ways of going about the business of
seakeeping. Submarine officers master nuclear reactor
startup procedures according to intricate and rigorous
checklists, enforced ruthlessly for the sake of maximum
safety. The Naval Academy works to cultivate people suited
to leadership in conditions of confusion and uncertainty, to
functioning within prescribed boundaries to achieve results,
and to seeing order in chaos.
Through long historical experience the military services
have winnowed the preferred psychological traits that good
officers should have and built mechanisms to cultivate them.
There are many
wonderful qualities midshipmen would exhibit in a perfect
world, but when forced to compromise, the Navy and Marine
Corps value conscientiousness, agreeableness, and hardiness
above all. Intelligence is important but is valued no
differently than it is in higher education generally.
Conscientious people, however, are thought to possess a high
capacity for organization, persistence, and motivation in
goal-directed behavior. Such people are dependable,
accountable, and competent—important traits for a competent
The military services
are hardly alone in looking for conscientious leaders. Most
private enterprises and organizations value the same in job
candidates, and to varying degrees, college education in
general is less a matter of learning useful job skills than
of signaling a student’s ability to manage his or her life
in a way that led to graduation. A degree is a seal of
approval that identifies a potentially good worker. It
demonstrates that the applicant passed a certain number of
classes, completed some reading, wrote papers, and did not
succumb to the myriad temptations and diversions that derail
so many others. (In that sense, the Naval Academy is an
easier institution to get through than a normal college.
Rules and prohibitions go some way to ensuring that Naval
Academy midshipmen confront fewer temptations and
The demands of
military service are intense, and Naval Academy graduates
require uncommon hardiness. Hardiness refers to a pronounced
commitment to responsibility and work, a strong belief in a
person’s ability to control events and influence outcomes,
and a continuous willingness to tackle whatever challenges
life offers. The walls and common spaces of the institution
are filled with prominent references to and images of
notable historical examples of hardy officers, presumably to
encourage midshipmen to identify with their hardiness.
military culture of the Brigade of Midshipmen places
particular emphasis on agreeableness. People who exhibit
high levels of that trait are trustworthy, honest, and
altruistic. Research suggests an inverse relationship
between agreeableness and innovation in individuals—those
with lower agreeableness tend to be more innovative. The
trait has a great deal to do with how people conduct social
relationships. Agreeable people, while not necessarily able
innovators, are strongly suited to implementing innovations
remarks also suggest a desire to accentuate qualities
associated with certain other psychological factors, such as
open-mindedness. Open-minded people are receptive to
novelty, willing to buck convention, and possess the
independence of mind typical of notable innovators, who
often are neurotic and exhibit an edgy sense of urgency
while rejecting established norms. They understand risk
differently than highly conscientious people, if they take
it into account at all. It is hard to imagine notably
open-minded and neurotic individuals flourishing at the
Naval Academy, to say nothing of the ruthlessly conformist
warfare communities of the Navy and Marine Corps.
This begs the question
of how to identify, recruit, and retain such people without
dramatically changing the Academy and officer corps.
Privileging new virtues must come at a cost to the ones
formerly most highly prized. They coexist harmoniously in
only a marginal number of people.
None of this should be
taken to mean that an emphasis on innovation, creativity,
and change is destined for failure. Officers refine
established methods every day to achieve greater
efficiencies and economies of effect; tinkering around the
margins of routine is a natural human approach to
improvement. The nuclear Navy ranks “a questioning attitude”
as one of the touchstones of its highly successful
culture—albeit within the context of a formal process for
the sake of managing risk not innovation.
Military officers in
the past have, on occasion, achieved big outcomes through
invention and innovation, smashing norms to yield
revolutionary solutions. If an organization as big and rich
as the Navy throws enough people and money at a problem, it
is a safe bet that solutions will emerge. But it should not
confuse the results with what is optimal or efficient, nor
should it fail to appreciate the costs. Expecting innovation
from people selected for conscientiousness, hardiness, and
agreeableness is similar to expecting good baseball players
to win a hockey game.
The Naval Academy
certainly can be changed to select for and cultivate
different attributes, but the Navy should be frank about the
Jones teaches history at the U.S. Naval Academy.
'Old Man' Richard Harrison of 'Pawn Stars'
LAS VEGAS (AP)
— Video clips of reality TV figure
Richard Harrison played in
a Las Vegas funeral home where the patriarch of the Gold & Silver
Pawn Shop empire was remembered as a Navy veteran, husband, father
and sometimes cranky character.
One showed a
"Pawn Stars" episode where he prepared to drive through an obstacle
"Oh, shut up
before you even go there. I am the best driver here," Harrison told
his son and colleagues before proceeding to knock down several
The video also included
testimonials from colleagues filmed after Harrison's death.
and fans paid their last respects Sunday to Harrison, who was known
to the reality TV world as "The Old Man," the
Las Vegas Review-Journal reports
Harrison died June 25
after a fight with Parkinson's disease. He was 77.
"He seemed like a
really nice guy and kind of reminded me of my father," Las Vegas
area resident Jack Leclair said.
Leclair watched the
show since its 2009 launch, he said, and visited the store on Las
Vegas Boulevard but never met Harrison.
casket was draped during a private ceremony with an American flag to
honor his 20 years of Navy service. A photo showed him with his wife
of 58 years, JoAnne. He also is survived by sons Joseph, Rick and
Chris Harrison, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Richard Harrison was
born March 4, 1941, in Danville, Virginia. His father, a welder and
carpenter, moved the family to Lexington, North Carolina, where
Harrison spent most of his childhood.
In the Navy, he was
transferred to San Diego in 1967, and rose to the rank of petty
officer first class. He was discharged in the late 1970s and began
helping his wife with her real estate business.
The family moved to Las
Vegas in 1981, and Harrison relocated his business to its current
Las Vegas Boulevard address in 1988.
In July 2009, "Pawn
Stars" made its debut, featuring Harrison, his son Rick, grandson
Corey and family friend Austin "Chumlee" Russell. It is set to begin
filming its 16th season in September.
from: Las Vegas Review-Journal,
Submarine Squadron 11
Welcomes Chilean Submarine to San Diego
MC2 Derek Harkins,
Navy.mil, July 2
DIEGO – Commander, Submarine Squadron 11 (CSS-11) welcomed the
Chilean Submarine (CS) Simpson (SS 21) to Naval Base Point
Loma as part of the Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI)
program, June 26.
DESI, established in 2001 by U.S. Fleet Forces Command, enhances the
Navy's capability to operate with diesel-electric submarines by
partnering with South American navies. During Simpson's three-month
deployment to San Diego, the crew will conduct underway operations
with U.S. Navy submarines, ships and aircraft.
"Each year, Submarine Squadron 11 has the privilege of hosting a
South American submarine in our local waters," said Lt. Alexander
Papadakos, the CSS-11 liaison officer for Simpson.
"During these visits, we are able to simulate a variety of wartime
scenarios against diesel submarines which adds an additional degree
of difficulty and reality to fleet ASW, as diesel submarines have
proven to be quiet and elusive."
Simpson will conduct surface, air, and sub-surface anti-submarine
warfare (ASW) exercises. These operations will provide the U.S. Navy
and the Chilean crew valuable training and exercise opportunities to
improve skills, capabilities and experience in ASW warfare.
Sailors on board Simpson will also engage in training ashore on
Naval Base Point Loma. The Submarine Learning Center (SLC)
Detachment San Diego will host the Chilean sailors for classroom and
practical training, including fighting simulated fires at the Fire
Fighting Trainer and learning skills to combat flooding in the
Damage Control Team Trainer.
"Maintaining our own ASW prowess is not the only benefit of DESI,"
said Papadakos. "It allows us to strengthen our bonds with our South
Capt. Chris Cavanaugh, commander, Submarine Squadron 11, personally
welcomed the commanding officer and crew of CS Simpson with members
of his staff and Sailors from the Los Angeles-class fast-attack
submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756).
The highlight of the DESI deployment is CHILEMAR VIII, a submarine
search and rescue exercise that will take place in August.
Chile remains the only South
American submarine-operating country to conduct frequent live
submarine rescue exercises with U.S. Navy rescue assets at Undersea
While in port, the Sailors of both navies look forward to
challenging each other on the soccer field for friendly pick-up
games, picnics and socials throughout the summer.
Submarine Squadron 11 was commissioned July 1, 1986, at Naval Base
Point Loma, as a result of reorganization of Commander, Submarine
Group 5. Submarine Squadron 11 consists of five Los Angeles-class
fast attack submarines, the floating dry dock Arco (ARDM 5) and
Undersea Rescue Command (URC). The squadron staff is responsible for
providing training, material and personnel readiness support for
each of these units.^
Peace Through Strength:
What It Really Means
In 1970 in the Mediterranean,
the USS Independence (CVA-62) and the Soviet destroyer shadowing her
activated their fire-control radars and locked onto each other. The
author, a young ensign at the time, recalls his disappointment when
the tensions came to naught but concludes the strength of Sixth
Fleet kept the Soviets from pushing too far.
The sea was an ebony carpet with only the faintest indication of a
horizon separating the overcast sky from the waters below. Yet,
through my binoculars, I could make out the silhouette of a Soviet
destroyer off our starboard quarter, gliding silently, with a slight
left-bearing drift. “Ivan”—as we had nicknamed him—had been
shadowing us for several days and was less of a novelty than he had
been when first arriving to take the place of the smaller, less
lethal intelligence collector (AGI) that had been our companion
since the crisis began.
As junior officer of the deck and conning officer of the aircraft
carrier USS Independence (CVA-62, “ Indy ” to those of us privileged
to serve as part of her 5,000-man airwing and crew), my primary
concern on this midwatch was navigational, including being ready in
case Ivan made any sudden moves—as he had done several days
before—that might risk a collision. On that earlier occasion, we had
been recovering aircraft, and his sudden turn seemed deliberately
designed to disrupt our flight operations.
Such interactions between adversaries in the Cold War were not
unusual, but at times like this, when there was a crisis in progress
among the client states of the two great contenders, the level of
danger was markedly increased.
As an ensign, I was not privy to much detail and consequently had
little understanding of what was going on. All I knew for certain
was that something was happening in Jordan; that upon departing
Athens after a scheduled visit, we had been ordered by flash message
to “point three-three north, three-three east” (just more than a
hundred miles from the coast of Israel); that another carrier was on
her way to join us; and that the aviation ordnancemen in my division
had just completed a major load of antitank weapons onto many of our
A-4 and A-6 attack aircraft.
It seemed something major was afoot and that we might actually be
involved in combat operations. But it did not take a strategic
genius to know that as long as the Soviets were involved, there
likely would be great restraint—hopefully on both sides—because the
specter of nuclear war loomed ever-present, unimaginable yet
unquestionably real. Still, as a young and naive sailor, who had not
yet experienced combat but had read a great deal of history, I could
not help but feel excitement at the prospect of getting to do what
we had trained for, to follow in the wake of John Paul Jones and go
“in harm’s way,” to strike a blow against the Red enemy I had
learned to abhor.
I recently had volunteered for duty in Vietnam, and in a few months
I would go there and have some of that naivety scrubbed away—though
I still would abhor Communists, albeit with a newfound and grudging
respect. But in September 1970, my task was to drive an aircraft
carrier through the dark waters of the Mediterranean Sea, to watch a
potential enemy brazenly shadow us, and to wonder what the coming
hours might bring.
I was nearing the end of my watch when a voice on the 21MC startled
me from my musings: “Bridge, Combat; Ivan is lighting us up.”
Realizing this meant the Soviet destroyer had activated its
fire-control radar and was targeting us, I felt the hair stand up on
the back of my neck. My excitement increased as the officer of the
deck called the captain, and the latter emerged from his sea cabin,
shuffling along in slippers and ordering our own fire-control radar
to retaliate by locking onto the offending Soviet ship.
For the next half-hour, Ivan and the Indy remained locked on one
another, poised like two fighters squared off in the ring, but
neither throwing a punch. At first, I wondered if this was “it,” the
moment when the proverbial balloon would go up, and I would see a
flash erupt from our Russian “escort.” But as both ships continued
to steam along as before, neither changing course nor altering
speed, and the captain did not order us to general quarters, I
realized this was merely harassment without true hostile intent.
My excitement was replaced by an unreasoned
but very real feeling of disappointment. I had joined the Navy for
many reasons (not least was my belief that women could not resist a
man in uniform), but one of my motivations was to be a warrior. I
had grown up in the streets of Baltimore, where the most noble form
of fighting was self-defense, all others for stupid reasons. My
reading had revealed to me that fighting could be for truly
altruistic reasons, that worthwhile endeavors—like freedom and
justice—could not survive without those who were willing to fight
and even die to protect them. I wanted very much to be one of those
That honorable motivation, coupled with a young man’s foolish desire
to “prove himself” by achieving some form of heroism (that also
would impress the fairer sex), caused me to feel a level of
disappointment that even my young self knew was misguided but was
As the adrenaline ebbed, I stared out at our Russian adversary,
seeing only his running lights contrasting sharply with the Stygian
darkness, their brightness another sign that there would be no
combat on this midwatch. Masked by the low hum of electronics and
the ever-present static from the high-frequency radio speaker, I
could hear the muffled voices of the helm and lee-helm watchstanders
as they spoke, most likely about their adventures in the last
liberty port. It was clear the tension we all had felt was
subsiding. With a heavy sigh I turned away and prepared for the
changing of the watch.
But this essay is not really about me. It is about two powerful
fleets that represented their respective superpower nations in those
dark days of the Cold War, when the world held its collective breath
knowing that a miscalculation by either side could result in a
nuclear holocaust. It is about the motivations that brought these
armadas into frequent contact, the varying roles they
played—sometimes threatening, sometimes yielding—and the decisions
that brought them—more than once—into confrontations that were
heralded by the thundering hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen as
Apocalypse loomed just over the horizon.
It was in the midst of one of those ominous confrontations (the
Jordanian Crisis of 1970) that I experienced those contradictory
feelings described above. By the time I found myself in the midst of
another such confrontation (the even more ominous 1973 Arab-Israeli
War), I had been to Vietnam, added a wife and children to my seabag,
and gained a more realistic appreciation of the spectrum of warfare
and its consequences.
In that second confrontation, I had a better understanding of what
was happening and, more important, what was at stake. Although I
remained prepared for a hostile exchange with our Soviet adversaries
and was willing to accept the personal consequences, I no longer
felt the same level of disappointment when tense moments subsided
without overt action. In the years between those major
confrontations, when the U.S. Sixth Fleet stood toe-to-toe with the
Soviet Fifth Eskadra, I had learned to include bloodshed in my
calculus of consequences, and I now appreciated that the loss of
restraint I once had resented now threatened my loved ones at home
as well as me, the “noble warrior.”
So it was that the lieutenant’s view of Sixth Fleet operations was
more advanced than that of the ensign, certainly more mature and
better informed. Even so, I still did not fully appreciate what I
(the Sixth Fleet) was doing during my multiple deployments. I often
selfishly wondered why we needed two task groups in the
Mediterranean when one would allow me more time at home with my
family. I frequently dismissed fleet exercises as just another way
of making sure morale did not get too high. I saw port visits as
little more than a great way for the Navy to fulfill its recruiting
promise to “see the world.”
It has been in later years, when I have long since traded my sword
for a pen and reaped the benefits that the passage of time confers
on those who have discovered the utility of history, that I have
learned so much more about what we Sixth Fleet sailors were doing on
those deployments to Homer’s “wine dark sea.” I now am able to see
some of what the admirals saw, to know why we were asked to make the
sacrifices and take the risks that we did. I now can visit flag
bridges, read documents once beyond my clearance and “need to know,”
and listen in on conversations within the walls of the White House
and the Kremlin.
Out of all that, I learned the value of those many hours
participating in exercises that seemed trivial at the deckplate
level, I grew to appreciate the importance of “carving holes in the
ocean” (as we inelegantly described maintaining a station in some
corner of the Mediterranean), and I came to know how very close we
came to Armageddon, sometimes without being fully aware.
Some of the conclusions I drew as a result of this quest resonate
today, for despite tectonic shifts in geopolitics—not least of which
was the demise of the Soviet Union—the Mediterranean remains a vital
sea of great strategic significance, the Middle East and North
Africa continue to demand the attention of both the United States
and Russia, and maritime strategy is every bit as important as it
was in those days when the Sixth Fleet and Fifth Eskadra pointed
their weapons at one another.
The story of confrontations between the U.S. and USSR fleets is one
fraught with peril, one that might well have ended badly. We several
times came frighteningly close to Armageddon, where a moment of
panic or a slight miscalculation, or the presence of a madman at the
wrong place at the wrong time, could have upset the delicate balance
that kept both sides from going beyond “the brink.” But in the final
analysis, it was the strength of the Sixth Fleet—real and
perceived—that on each occasion prevented the Soviet Union from
pushing too far and prevented crises from becoming catastrophes.
The experiences of the Sixth Fleet are a classic study in those
vital missions that make a strong Navy worth its cost—primarily
forward presence and deterrence. What the layman (and a young
ensign) usually fails to comprehend is that navies succeed when they
prevent war; that the ability to go to war—and to win—is essential,
but it also represents a partial failure in the navy’s primary
purpose of defending the nation, a choice (or necessity) of last
The victory at sea during World War II is a source of great pride to
those Americans who know their history. We understandably—and in one
sense rightly—often focus on the courage and sacrifices that allowed
our sailors to win the greatest sea war in history. Yet such focus
masks the fact that it also is a story of failed strategy, because
the nation’s weakness opened the door to that horrific conflict by
allowing our enemies to believe they could prevail, to challenge us
in the North Atlantic and to attack us at Pearl Harbor.
In the postwar years, by its constant presence and its strength, the
Sixth Fleet succeeded in preserving vital national aims while
preventing another holocaust, one that likely would have had even
greater consequence and would not have ended in clear victory for
either side. The lesson here is obvious and old—peace is best
achieved through deterrent strength.
These musings are relevant because grave dangers continue to haunt
us in an era when many of the methods—and indeed the rules—of war
are changing. Those dangers we faced during the Cold War may have
changed their appearance and may be affected by different variables,
but they are no less dangerous and still require vigilance, valor,
and preparedness to keep them in check. The fact remains that the
most effective way to deter war is through strength—and, somewhat
contradictorily, a willingness to use it.
The surest way to disaster is to permit potential enemies to believe
they can prevail. Among the very first lines of defense is our
Navy—able to deter through mobile presence, to preserve those sea
lines of communication that bind the world together in trade, and to
project formidable power when all else fails. Yet these seemingly
self-evident truths are little understood by the public at large and
by too few of the legislators who represent them.
The lessons subsequently learned by this sailor—who once stood
watches in company with a dangerous enemy, who only partially
appreciated the importance of what he and his fleet were doing—are
lessons that must be more efficiently learned by those who hold the
keys to the Navy’s future. My naivety as an ensign was curable over
time and was of no real consequence as long as I was willing to
follow orders, but as a nation we cannot afford such a slow
edification process. We do not have the luxury of waiting for
decision makers to learn how to make the right choices—budgetary and
strategic—while we grow weaker and our enemies grow stronger.
Imagine a world where China controls the South China Sea, Russia
dominates the Mediterranean, and Iran decides who may or may not
access the Persian Gulf. These are not overnight occurrences, but a
strong navy cannot be maintained without the proper long-term
investments in shipbuilding infrastructure, cutting-edge technology,
first-rate personnel management, and sustainable maintenance
programs. And these investments are not likely to be made by
individuals who think like Ensign Cutler and who do not understand
the imperative of a strong navy to a maritime superpower such as
Among the Navy’s highest priorities should be an effective
information campaign that warns without hysteria yet clarifies the
perils that lie ahead if we allow our fleet to atrophy through
ignorance. Americans must realize that this is about more than
national defense—it is about free trade and the maintenance of
mechanisms that preserve the standard of living we take for granted.
power of social media and other forms of communication must be
exploited to deliver this vital message. Peace through strength must
be more than a bumper sticker; it must be a commandment of national
survival and well-being. If this nation is to safely navigate the
shoal waters that loom ahead, it must strive to edify and inspire
those outside the choir, to illuminate for others what too few
citizens understand, to recast strategic thinking as common sense.
To do otherwise is to invite empty shelves at Walmart . . . or
Lieutenant Commander Cutler
enlisted in the Navy in 1965 and was commissioned as an ensign in
1969, retiring in 1990. He is the author of several Naval Institute
Press books, including A Sailor’s History of the U.S. Navy and The
Battle of Leyte Gulf , and is the U.S. Naval Institute Gordon
England Chair of Professional Naval Literature. ^
Surface, A Quiet Superpower Race For Nuclear Supremacy
Yingjie Gu and Matt
Sussis, USA Today, June 30
The world’s three largest naval powers are all developing the next
generation of their nuclear submarine fleets, accelerating the
underwater arms race between the United States, China and Russia.
For now, at least, analysts say
America remains by far the
most dominant submarine force, even as its chief rivals work
feverishly to overcome the U.S. advantages. Each country
appears to have different strategic goals, with the U.S. bent on
gaining greater cost and operating efficiencies while the Chinese
and Russian are keenly focused on technological advances and
achieving greater stealth.
As tensions escalated in the South China Sea, these three countries
— which boast the world’s largest navies — are aggressively
preparing for any potential undersea or nuclear conflict, as they
develop or perfect nuclear ballistic submarines (SSBNs) and attack
submarines (SSNs). These nations have engaged in territorial
disputes in those waters, and China has increased its
submarine-intensive military drills as a show of force.
The U.S. has likely been
underestimating the number of attack submarines it would need in the
Pacific, given the heightened potential for conflict in the region,
warned James R. Holmes, professor of strategy at the Naval War
“You need to divide the number [of total ships] by two, three, or
even more to estimate realistically how many ships are available for
duty on any given day. The rest are in overhaul, undergoing
training, or relaxing after deployment,” Holmes said. “So, divide
the number of SSNs in the Pacific by three, then look at the map.
That's very few boats to manage events in the world's largest body
Nearly half of the $106.4 billion of planned Navy shipbuilding
between fiscal 2019 and 2023 will go for nuclear ballistic and
attack submarines, according to the Navy’s long-range construction
plan. The spending blueprint calls for $32.9 billion for
construction of ten attack submarines and $16.7 billion for a new
nuclear ballistic submarine.
The attack submarines are armed with various cruise missiles
designed to hit closer-range land and sea targets. They are
specifically designed to attack and sink other submarines, surface
combatants and merchant vessels.
The nuclear ballistic submarines are equipped with nuclear weapons
capable of delivering a retaliatory or preemptive strike almost
anywhere in the world. Combined, these two types of submarines make
up the preponderance of what will likely be the future of undersea
“The surface of the sea -- and the sky above -- is an extremely
hazardous place in this missile and drone age, while the ocean has
remained mainly opaque despite advances in sensor and computer
technology,” said Holmes.
Mutually Assured Destruction
SSBNs, or “boomers,” hide in the ocean and can launch nuclear
ballistic missiles at an enemy anywhere in the world even if the
rest of a nation’s nuclear triad of air- and ground-based missiles
is destroyed. They are the
guarantors of mutually assured destruction in the event of nuclear
Some analysts say that these boomers will be increasingly crucial to
the national security strategy of all three nations in the coming
“There is no higher priority for the U.S. Navy than SSBN
recapitalization,” said J.D. Williams, a retired Marine Corps
colonel and senior defense researcher at RAND Corporation, who said
SSBNs play a major role in the Navy’s big-picture decision making.
The United States is building its first Columbia-class SSBN to
replace the Ohio-class, and the Navy anticipates the lead ship will
be completed by 2027. The Navy should have 12 Columbia-class boomers
by the 2040s, according to General Dynamics, a Navy submarine
Meanwhile, Russia expects to complete four Borei-II submarines by
2025, and China will begin constructing Type 096 submarines in
several years, both of which will be able to travel at speeds of
more than 30 knots – or about 10 knots faster than the new
Columbia-class SSBN. While the United States is most focused on the
lifetime savings from the Columbia-class’s improved nuclear core
reactor, for both Russia and China’s next generation of boomers,
speed and stealth are key.
“Currently, the U.S. advantage is in quieting, so I’m not surprised
to see Russia and China try to close that gap,” said Bradley Martin,
a senior policy researcher at RAND and a retired Navy captain, in
discussing submarine stealth. “The U.S. is already at a background
noise level, and you can’t get much quieter than that.”
Attack subs designed for versatility
The U.S., Russia and China are locked in an intense competition to
develop the most sophisticated next generation of SSNs.
Because attack submarines carry cruise missiles, they constitute a
navy’s most crucial and versatile weapon in any frontal assault.
Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long
distances with high accuracy, and they are intended to hit both land
and sea targets.
The U.S. has built 13 Virginia-class attack submarines and is
expecting 15 more by the end of 2018(?/ed).
China and Russia are also expanding their attack submarine fleets,
albeit at a slower pace. China is currently constructing two
additional Type 095 submarines and has five more planned, while
Russia expects to have six more of its Yasen-M class submarines by
While America’s new attack submarines are intended to have longer
operational lives and more flexibility, Russia and China are more
focused on avoiding detection. Russia wants stealthier and more
heavily armed SSNs while China is digging into quieting
However, Russia’s weaker industrial base could put a damper on its
lofty submarine improvement plans, according to some analysts.
“The Severodvinsk is way quieter than anything we’ve encountered and
it’s got everybody spooked,” said Washington naval analyst
Christopher Cavas. “But the problem is Russia’s industrial base just
isn’t very good. They come up with these brilliant designs but the
ships don’t end up brilliantly built.”
In 2000, a Russian cruise-missile submarine — Kursk — sank, killing
all 118 sailors on board. The Russian government concluded the ship
sunk due to a faulty weld which caused a gas leak and led to an
Despite improvements in Chinese and Russian submarines, the U.S.
Navy said it remains confident that its investments will ensure
America’s next-gen submarines remain the world’s dominant
“Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines are designed with
improved littoral environment capabilities, sensors, Special
Operations Forces (SOF) capabilities, and strike options -- making
it an ideal platform for the modern security environment ensuring
asymmetric capabilities to combat current and future threats,” said
Lt. Lauren Chatmas, Navy spokesperson.
Cavas agreed, and said the Virginia submarines remained in a class
“The truth is that nobody
else has the front-end of the Virginias,” said Cavas. “On top
of these capabilities, they have a whole new reconfigurable weapon
space for more flexibility. We’re ahead of the Russians, and the
Chinese really don’t have anything of the same degree on this.”
The Pentagon is also seeking to improve its submarine fleet through
new technology such as underwater drones. The Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on an underwater “truck”
called Hydra which could host unmanned aerial drones, and release
them into the air to conduct missions upon reaching a certain
Hydra remains in development, and DARPA awarded funds to Boeing last
year to provide continued support in their construction, and Boeing
expects its current contract to expire in early 2019.^