Wednesday, November 5, 2008


This is coolbert:

From a comment to the blog:

"The USN needs some SSKs [AIP submarine] on its own. To praise the experience of few months of exercises with a single Swedish sub as very helpful only exposes their awful lack of understanding of SSKs."

The question can be - - and should be asked - - does the U.S Navy need to adopt and put to sea a class of Air-Independent-Propulsion submarines?

Looked up some info from the Internet on the SKS Gotland class Swedish AIP submarine. And also for the German Type 212 AIP vessel. The latter analogous in design and capabilities to the SKS? I think very much so?

These current AIP designs do have some impressive capabilities.

* Range is about 9,000 miles.
* Dive to about 2,000 feet?
* Endurance of about 12 weeks.
* Stay submerged for two weeks without surfacing!
* Can attain a speed of 20+ knots UNDERWATER!
* Carry a whole host of weapons. Torpedoes, mines, etc.
* Able to deploy combat swimmers and special operations type units.

And, of course, are very STEALTHY and virtually undetectable by the ordinary and commonly used anti-submarine-warfare technology now in use by navies the world over.

So why does the U.S. Navy still build “nuke boomers” of the Virginia class?

Why not go with the greatest-thing-since-sliced-bread and agree that AIP is the way to go?

My intuitive response would be range, speed, and endurance, all related to mission.

American nuclear submarines, in contrast to a Swedish SKS or a German Type 21 boat, are required to operate in pelagic [deep, blue] waters, far from home port! Just to arrive “on-station” requires a voyage of thousands of miles, and must be done with all due speed! [when the USS San Francisco ran into that underwater mountain a few years ago now, it was reported that the vessel was “cruising” at 30+ knots! Could attain that speed and MAINTAIN MORE OR LESS INDEFINITELY!! Such can be done with a nuclear reactor as the power source!?] And - - when arriving “on-station”, maintain patrol for months on end, all the while submerged! ONLY A NUCLEAR SUBMARINE IS CAPABLE OF MEETING MISSION REQUIREMENTS OF SPEED, RANGE, ENDURANCE?!
Mission requirements currently unique to the U.S. Navy? [the Soviets at one time too had similar requirements!] The U.S. Navy has a power projection and global reach mission in a way the Swedes and Germans do not!

The SKS Gotland class and the German Type 212 class are designed for missions primarily of the littoral/green water variety. A PELAGIC MISSION IS NOT NORMALLY IN THE CARDS? Gotland and Type 212 COULD operate in blue waters if needed, but NOT for a prolonged period?!

[“station” for a Gotland class or a Type 212 would be the Baltic?! Shallow waters, confined, CERTAINLY NOT MID-OCEANIC!!]

[even that most vaunted of Soviet submarines, the Alfa class, WAS ASSIGNED A ROLE THAT WAS PRIMARILY DEFENSIVE! Deep-diving [4,000+ feet reputed depth capability], and very high speed underwater. BUT - - designed to sortie from home port, shoot-and-run, retire to home port as soon as possible! NOT NECESSARILY A OFFENSIVE WEAPONS SYSTEM WITH LONG-RANGE CAPABILITY!!]

Only the CNO [Chief, Naval Operations] knows the full and complete answer to any of this? If he does know, he is not saying?


1 comment:

S O said...

The only near-peer potential adversary fleets are the Russian and PR Chinese ones.

The Russians scaled back to regional power (CIS), and that means 99% land/air for them.

The Chinese are close to U.S. friends like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan - and the standard scenario for a naval conflict with the PRC is about the Taiwan Strait.

It's perfectly possible to deploy SSKs forward.

The AIP submarines of our time are afaik Type 212 (fuel cell - almost no noise at all), Gotland (Stirling engine - in between all electric and diesel noise) and Scorpène (French class with ethanole/oxygen AIP module offered).

Classic WW2 sonar tech was primarily active, Cold War ASW tech was primarily passive (SSNs and even most SSBNs were rather loud) - now it's back to active (very low frequencies)again because SSKs cannot be reliably spotted with passive sonar.

The nightmare is a SSK that sneaks into position, rests on the ground and waits. Detailed scanning of the ocean floor is extremely time-intensive and not easily done in a war zone - especially not without closing in.

Operating depth is no problem for SSKs; Typ 212 has officially 400+m, Scorpène officially 350m.

The typical limitation of SSKs is that they cannot shadow/pursuit other naval forces well. They're rather like snipers - sneak in, wait, shoot, get away.