Category Archives: US Submarines

News, views and stories about US submarines

U.S. Submarine in Asia Trip as Obama Seeks to Assure Allies

 

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina sits moored at Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

A U.S. nuclear submarine is making a port call in Singapore as the Navy showcases its ability to operate in shallow coastal waters after questions about the fitness of its Littoral Combat Ship for use in Asia.

The Virginia-class USS North Carolina was designed with littoral combat in mind, particularly for special operations and anti-mine warfare, its commanding officer Richard Rhinehart told reporters yesterday. It is the submarine’s second visit to the region since its commissioning ceremony in 2008.

U.S. Navy officers in the Pacific fleet have raised concerns that the Littoral Combat Ship may lack the speed, range and electronic-warfare capabilities to operate in the vast Asian waters. President Barack Obama, who made a week-long trip to the region to shore up ties with key allies, has said the U.S. would protect East China Sea islands administered by Japan that are claimed by China and reaffirmed defense treaty obligations with the Philippines, embroiled in a dispute with China in the South China Sea.

“This is not the first Virginia-class to deploy to the region,” said Commander Rhinehart. “This does, however, represent a continued effort by the U.S. to send the best technology and capabilities into the Pacific theater.”

The North Carolina, which has been on its current deployment for four months, is the first class of submarine equipped with a periscope system consisting of two photonics masts with infrared and laser range-finding capability that makes it suitable for littoral waters, Rhinehart said. It can launch torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles, has counter-mine capabilities and a nine-man lockout chamber to allow swimmers to exit, he said.

GAO Report

The Littoral Combat Ship, designed to operate in coastal waters, “might be better suited to operations” in the smaller Persian Gulf, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report obtained by Bloomberg News this month. The Navy should consider buying fewer of the ships if its limitations prevent effective use in the Pacific, the report said, following others that have questioned the cost, mission and survivability in combat of the ship.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a Feb. 24 memo that “considerable reservations” led him to bar negotiations for any more than 32 of the vessels, 20 fewer than called for in the Navy’s $34 billion program. The Littoral Combat Ship is made in two versions by Lockheed Martin (LMT) Corp. and Austal Ltd.

Operating in shallow waters is a bigger challenge because there are more objects for sound to bounce off, the mix of salt water and fresh water can cause changes in buoyancy, and there is a greater likelihood of encountering other ships such as fishing vessels, Rhinehart said.

Projecting Power

The U.S. Navy will probably keep buying Littoral Combat Ships because it doesn’t really have an alternative, according to Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore who focuses on regional military issues.

“One of the reason why they’re building Littoral Combat Ships is to give them the ability to project power from the water close to land,” he said. “Asia’s important, Southeast Asia in particular is important, and the United States is going to be demonstrating its intention to stay here.”

Obama Visits

Tensions in Asia have been on the rise as China asserts its military muscle and presses claims to territory and resources. In November, China prompted criticism from the U.S., South Koreaand Japan after it announced an air defense identification zone over a large part of the East China Sea. In January, it introduced fishing rules in the South China Sea requiring foreign vessels to seek permission before entering waters off its southern coast.

China will make “no compromise, no concessions” in such disputes and is ready to fight and win any battle, General Chang Wanquan said on April 8 in Beijing.

China has said central government defense spending will rise 12.2 percent this year to 808.2 billion yuan ($129.3 billion), at a time the Pentagon is cutting back, proposing a budget for the coming fiscal year of $495.6 billion and to reduce the Army’s personnel by 6 percent by 2015. China’s increased budget threatens to end U.S. military superiority, Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Feb. 11.

Counter, Contain

Obama, speaking on April 24 after a meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said a security treaty between the U.S. and Japan covers “all territory that is administered by Japan.” The commitment to defend the area is longstanding and he was not drawing a new “red line” with China over the issue, Obama said.

Yesterday, the Philippines and the U.S. signed an agreement that will boost the rotational American troop presence in the Southeast Asian nation.

The U.S. is seeking to work cooperatively with China in the region, Obama said at a briefing in Manila with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. “Our goal is not to counter China, our goal is not to contain China,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected and that includes in the area of maritime disputes.”

“We have a lot of regional allies,” said the North Carolina’s Commander Rhinehart. “The entire Asia area is very important and we’re here with our partner nations trying to promote security and the rights of all nations large and small.”

Source – Bloomberg News

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“Red October” submarine returns to Connecticut from last deployment

USS Dallas

USS Dallas

The submarine that starred in “The Hunt for Red October,” the USS Dallas, returned from its last overseas deployment Monday. Next year, after 33 years in the fleet, the Dallas will be inactivated.

Tom Clancy’s Cold War thriller made the Dallas famous, but in Navy circles it is better known for being the first attack submarine to carry a dry-deck shelter, which houses a vehicle for launching and recovering special operations forces.

“Of all the submarines that would be finishing up their service life, there are a couple out there that people know by name, and Dallas is one of them,” said Capt. David A. Roberts, who commanded Dallas from 2007 to 2009. “It kind of adds to the moment. ‘The Hunt for Red October’ submarine we all know and love from the movies is going to be finishing up its service life soon.”

But, Roberts said, he always tells people who ask about the Dallas that it has “done a lot more than just being in the movies.”

“Think about how the world has changed,” said Roberts, who now leads the Submarine Learning Center. “The missions Dallas was built for initially back then, in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, are so much different than in 2013. And she has stood the test of time and been able to keep step with the changing world, the challenging world.”

The Dallas (SSN 700) returned to the Naval Submarine Base on Monday after operating in Europe and the Middle East and traveling more than 34,000 miles during nearly seven months at sea.

While all deployments are memorable, Cmdr. Jack Houdeshell, the current commanding officer of the Dallas, said the last deployment comes second only to the maiden deployment for a submarine.

And on this deployment, Houdeshell added, the crew and the ship “showed the world what we can still do.”

The Dallas will continue to support training and other missions until September, when the preparations begin in earnest for the decommissioning, Houdeshell said.

One of 42 Los Angeles-class attack submarines remaining in the fleet, the Dallas was commissioned in 1981 as the seventh member in a class of 61 submarines. It has deployed to every operational theater around the world ever since.

The submarine circumnavigated the globe and transited the Panama Canal in 1984 and participated in Operations Desert Shield/Storm in the early 1990s.

Master Chief Electronics Technician Tomas A. Garcia, who was the chief of the boat on Dallas from 2010 to 2012, said the Dallas was known for delivering Navy SEALs, but the equipment was removed shortly before he reported aboard. Guided-missile submarines and some Virginia-class submarines carry the dry-deck shelters now, he added.

Roberts, Houdeshell and Garcia all said serving aboard Dallas was the highlight of their careers.

Garcia, a Texas native who is now the department master chief for Basic Enlisted Submarine School, led about 100 Naval Submarine School students to the pier on Monday so they could attend a submarine homecoming for the first time.

“There is no better way for them to really get a full appreciation for what it means to deploy on a submarine,” Garcia said.

Seeing the families and feeling the excitement of the homecoming, Garcia added, “really drives home” the importance of the submarine force’s missions and of the family support at home. Garcia said he also watched “The Hunt for Red October” with his family on Sunday night to celebrate the Dallas’ impending arrival.

Seaman Jose Cruz, 19, cheered “Hooyah, Dallas” with his classmates as the Dallas arrived next to the pier. Cruz said he felt as if he was being welcomed into the traditions of the submarine force.

“For all of us,” he said, “this will be something to remember.”

Houdeshell said Monday was an emotional day because he was thrilled to see his family and see the sailors reunited with their families, especially in time for Thanksgiving, but he also knew that after he brought his ship in “she’s not going to go out and do it again.”

“I think the real measure of the Dallas is the crews that served on the Dallas and have gone out throughout the fleet,” he said. “Even when the ship is gone you will still have the Dallas spirit out in the fleet from the sailors that served on board.”

The submarine itself may live on too, as a centerpiece for a maritime museum. A nonprofit foundation, the Dallas Maritime Museum Foundation, plans to build a museum featuring Navy ships and other vessels named after the city.

“As much as I hate to see my old ship eventually be decommissioned,” Roberts said, “I think memorializing her in Dallas would be a perfect ending to a great career.”

Source – New Haven Register

Ohio-Class Ballistic Submarine Remains Priority for US Navy

The Navy views the Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarine as its top priority, indicating it would be prepared to slash other ship programs to build the 12 submarines it needs.

Senior congressional aides noted that the Navy would consider reducing its 11-aircraft carrier fleet before it would scale back its plans to replace the Ohio-class ballistic submarine.

The reasons, according to the Navy, include the central role the ballistic missile submarines play as the most survivable part of nuclear deterrent force, the aging of the existing ballistic submarine fleet, and a need to keep a healthy industrial base.

“We are committed to sustaining a two-ocean national strategic deterrent that protects our homeland from nuclear attack, from other major war aggression and also access and extended deterrent for our allies,” said Rear Adm. Richard P. Breckenridge, director of the Navy’s Undersea Warfare Division.

To provide a viable deterrent of 10 forward-deployed submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific, the Navy requires at least 12 submarines at any given time.

“If we don’t build these 12 [ballistic missile submarines] on this timeline … that’s just [an] astronomical challenge for us to be able to maintain our vibrant and credible two-ocean deterrent — to deter bad behavior from powerful adversaries,” he told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces last week.

As a result of budget challenges last year, the Ohio-class replacement program was delayed two years.

“It, to me, is mind-staggering how much risk as a nation that we’ve taken with regard to this recapitalization timing decision,” Breckenridge said. “There is no allowance for any further delay.”

The Navy once had 18 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. At Congress’ direction, four of those submarines were converted to cruise-missile-carrying submarines, leaving 14 ballistic missile subs.

Since then, the Navy decided on a plan to replace those 14 submarines with 12 of the new ballistic missile submarines. The last time Congress started to buy a ballistic missile submarine, President Richard Nixon was in office. Procurement of the new submarines won’t begin until 2021.

“Our ballistic missile submarines are the bedrock underlying our national nuclear deterrent,” Breckenridge said. “Americans are asked to invest in replacing this force only once every other generation. … Recapitalizing this force is a solemn duty we have to the nuclear security of future Americans as well as allies.”

Source – Roll Call

Declining Power – USN Submarine Force

Admiral: U.S. submarine forces decline as forces of China, Russia, Iran advance undersea warfare capabilities

Russian sailors participating in joint Naval exercises with China / AP

Russian sailors participating in joint Naval exercises with China / AP

China, Russia, and Iran pose regional and strategic submarine threats and are building up undersea warfare capabilities as the Navy is cutting its submarine force by 30 percent, the admiral in charge of Pentagon submarine programs told Congress on Thursday.

Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, director of Navy undersea warfare programs, said the decline of U.S. submarines is placing a key U.S. military advantage at risk.

“Our adversaries are not standing still, and so even though we have an advantage and we have a lead, we can’t sit on our lead,” Breckenridge told a hearing of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee.

“We have to continue to move or we do have the potential within 20 years of losing this crown jewel, this advantage that we have in the undersea domain,” he said.

Breckenridge then outlined advances in the submarine warfare programs of China, Russia, and Iran.

China’s submarine warfare power is advancing in both numbers of submarines and growing sophistication and missile capability.

Beijing’s submarines currently are “predominantly a maritime, regional undersea force,” he said.

“They predominantly use their undersea forces to threaten the presence of our surface ships, to be able to shoulder off the positive, stabilizing influence of our naval forces in an anti-surface warfare dimension,” Breckenridge said.

However, he warned that China’s submarine programs are “growing towards more of a global strategic undersea force.”

China’s new Jin-class missile submarines are equipped with JL-2 missiles that “will put them into the stage of using the undersea for more than just maritime regional control,” he said.

China’s navy is also building conventionally armed, guided-missile submarines, he said.

“I think that the capability, the quality of their submarines will improve as we march forward a couple of decades,” Breckenridge said. “But right now, there is a capacity challenge that’s unique to what the Chinese navy has.”

Defense officials revealed to the Free Beacon in July that the first sea patrols of China’s new strategic missile submarines will begin next year, the first time Beijing will send strategic missile submarines far from its shores.

Currently, China has three Jin-class submarines each equipped with 12 JL-2 missiles. China calls the Jin-class the Type-094.

The National Air and Space Intelligence Center reported in July that the JL-2 will give China for the first time the capability to target portions of the United States from locations near China’s coasts.

After deploying at least five Jin-class subs, China currently is working on a more modern version missile submarine called the Type-096.

The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress said China has placed a high priority on building up its submarine force and currently has more than 55 submarines, including two new Shang-class attack submarines and four improved variants of that sub. It is building a new Type-095 guided missile attack submarine in the next decade, the report said.

The Chinese also have 12 Russian-made Kilo-class submarines, some armed with SS-N-27 anti-ship cruise missiles, 13 Song-class and eight Yuan-class attack submarines. Up to 20 Yuan-class subs will be deployed in the future.

Breckenridge said Russia is building two new classes of advanced submarines called the Borei-class nuclear missile submarine and a conventional, guided-missile class called Severodvinsk. He said the Russian submarine program is at the “global strategic level of power.”

“It is more than just a region,” he said. “It is the ability to control the seas, it is the ability to do land attack from covert positions. It has a much larger utility than just a maritime sea-control, sea-denial perspective alone, and the Russians have always maintained a very capable submarine force.”

While the U.S. Navy currently has the advantage over Russia in submarine warfare capabilities, “they are a close second with regard to their capability and with regard to their shipbuilding industry and the capabilities they’re putting into their new classes of submarines,” he said.

Three Borei-class submarines are now deployed and at least five more could be built, he said.

“There’s been talk of a higher number of SSBNs [strategic missile submarines] within their force,” Breckenridge added. “But that machine is running. Those very good quality ballistic missile submarines are being produced in Russia.”

The Severodvinsk class of guided missile submarines will have an “eight-pack” of missile tubes, twice the number on U.S. Virginia-class attack submarines.

“So they see the importance of the concealment of the undersea to bring potency with that, that can be threatening at a strategic level,” Breckenridge said. “And again, we are mindful of that and we are prepared to be able to counter that.”

Tehran’s submarine force of three Russian Kilo-class submarines, one indigenous Nahang-class submarine and an estimated 12 Ghadir-class midget submarines, poses a regional threat.

“If you look at Iran, they, like many other countries, use the undersea domain from a purely maritime, sea-denial local region type of influence, much like we did in World War II in the Pacific,” Breckenridge said, “to hold at risk predominantly surface warships.”

“It is a disruptive force, a challenging force and one that we deal with regard to our ability to project stabilizing influence around the globe,” the admiral said.

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs analyst with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the “capacity” challenge mentioned by Breckenridge is real.

“The Chinese Navy may have up to 53 somewhat older to quite modern non-nuclear propelled attack submarines plus five more nuclear powered attack submarines for a total of 58,” Fisher said, adding that the force could be much larger.

“A possible force of 92 Chinese submarines means that U.S. Navy today is facing a very formidable challenge that requires that U.S. submarine levels remain well above 50 ships in order to prevent rapid combat attrition,” he said.

Breckenridge said the submarine programs of the three potential adversaries are advancing and “we have to be mindful of to make sure that we as a nation preserve this unique advantage that we have in the undersea domain.”

By contrast, the U.S. submarine force will decline by 25 percent over the next 15  years as a result of a “gradual consequence of a long list of choices made over many years,” he said.

The total number of submarines will drop from 75 to 52, a 30 percent decline, he said.

The missile-firing strike payload volume from submarines will decline by over 60 percent as the result of retiring guided-missile and attack submarines, he said.

The forward-deployed submarines around the world will decline by over 40 percent, despite building two Virginia-class attack submarines per year, he said.

To address the growing need for submarine power with the declining force, Breckenridge said the Navy has four priorities for its submarine strategy.

They include sustaining the sea-based nuclear deterrent with a new missile submarine to replace Ohio-class submarines. The follow-on has been delayed for 20 years and “it is now time to make the necessary investments to support procurement of the first Ohio replacement in 2021,” Breckenridge said. “There is no allowance for any further delay.”

To prevent the worsening decline in attack submarines, the Navy must continue the two-per-year pace of Virginia-class submarines, add a new more efficient missile launch payload module to Virginia submarine, and restart production of torpedoes.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.) said during the hearing that defense spending cuts are harming the Navy.

“It’s apparent to me that the largest threat to the United States Navy is of our own making,” Forbes said of the defense spending crisis.

“I continue to believe that the undersea warfare capabilities provided by our United States Navy provide a preeminent role in the control of the global commons,” Forbes said. “These capabilities provide the United States with the key asymmetric advantage over any potential aggressor. Even in a time of declining resources, it’s crucial that our nation continue to retain our strategic advantage in undersea warfare.”

Source- The Washington Free Beacon

USS Cod submarine starts engines & fires its cannon

CLEVELAND — On Monday, the USS COD Submarine Memorial honored the men and women who built the 312-foot submarine 70 years ago by firing its cannons and starting its engines.

The Cleveland National Air Show is usually held over the the Labor Day weekend.

The Labor Day Sea Show aboard the WW II submarine is in response to the cancellation of the Cleveland National Air Show

“We can’t have a quiet Labor Day on the lakefront,” said Paul Farace, director of the USS COD Memorial.

The 312-foot long submarine started to fire hourly salutes from her 5-inch deck gun at 11 a.m. and will continue until 5 p.m. Her diesel engimes fired up at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.

The fully restored COD is open daily until September 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, go to USSCOD

Source – WKYC-TV

Submariner proposes to his boyfriend on dock as submarine returns to Conn. from deployment

In this Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jerrel Revel, left, proposes to his boyfriend Dylan Kirchner during the homecoming of the USS New Mexico at the submarine base in Groton, Conn., after the ship’s inaugural six-month deployment. They have not set a wedding date. Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It’s unclear how many of those are married.

GROTON, Connecticut — A Navy sailor returning from a six-month deployment emerged from his submarine, dropped to one knee and proposed to his boyfriend during the homecoming celebration in Connecticut for USS New Mexico.

About 200 people were gathered at the dock of the Naval Submarine Base New London where Machinist’s Mate Jerrel Revels proposed to Dylan Kirchner. Kirchner said he had thought about getting married but the proposal Monday came as a surprise.

“I didn’t really care everybody was around. It felt just like the two of us,” Kirchner told The Day of New London

The couple has not set a wedding date.

The repeal of the ban on openly gay military service took effect in 2011.

Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It’s unclear how many of those are married.

The attack submarine traveled more than 34,000 miles over six months and stopped at ports in Norway, Scotland and Spain. It marked the first deployment for more than 70 percent of the crew. The sub was commissioned in 2010 and is the second Navy vessel to be named for New Mexico.

Source – Daily Journal

Man Restores Submarine, Writes Book – USS Drum

Man Restores Submarine, Writes Book

Thomas Bowser, the man tasked with restoring the U.S.S. Drum at Battleship Park has written a book about the submarine.

Bowser signed copies of his book “The Three Lives of the U.S.S. Drum” on Sunday.

Bowser believes that preserving history of submarines while sharing the story about the crew’s challenges makes a unique story worthy of a book.

“I did a lot of the work before just to put it out for visitors to see and November I decided to turn it into a book and compile it all together,” says Bowser.

Source – Local 15