Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Submarine Short list

The less we hear about the future development of such breakthroughs and their innovative applications, the more certain we may surmise adoption by our military. If you must ask yourself, Why submarines? Consider this 2001 rationale for starters:

...a long list of submarine contributions to joint operations ... emphasizes such unique submarine qualities as undetected presence (which allows the element of surprise in attacks), the submarine's role in solving the 'denial of access' problem, nonprovocative intelligence collection, the submarine's "24/7" and all-weather operational capabilities, and the critical capabilities provided by submarines in close-in operations.

Many scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations have turned up since 2001. Most conspicuous by their absence are perhaps these:

1) Seabased, submerged submarine replenishment (provisions, crew replacements, weapons)

Advantages: eliminates transit times to and from forward based areas by subs on patrol. Raises fleet effectiveness, maintains stealth, reduces costs, aids crew retention and recruitment. Utilizes supply submarines as mother ships (think of SSGN-sized mothership) from homeport to sub A to sub B. Maintains or increases stealth.

2) The concept of external (to pressure hull) weapons storage has not been absent (from public discussion); what has been absent is the use of weapons that propel themselves some distances, unarmed for delivery to a submarine's weapons inventory.

3) The concept of AIP subs in the U.S. inventory has not been absent (from public discussion, which says they will not be); what has been absent is whether Sweden will provide upgraded AIP and perhaps other key hardware to Electric Boat.

Skipping forward six or seven year to now, we get more suggestions about future submarine innovations:

Human (crew survivability):

Scientists aglow over drug for radiation poisoning - ... DARPA wants a drug that can be effective even if given 12 hours after exposure to radiation. ... Officials at the Department of Defense, seeking remedies for the radiation sickness that would follow a nuclear strike, were so taken by the research that they recently gave Tour a $540,000 grant and asked him to compress the next phase of testing into an almost unheard-of nine months. In that time, Tour's research group hopes to improve the drug so it works as well when given after radiation exposure as it does before. This one would be in every nuclear sub's armamentarium.


Optical rogue waves - Recent observations show that the probability of encountering an extremely large rogue wave in the open ocean is much larger than expected from ordinary wave-amplitude statistics1, 2, 3. Although considerable effort has been directed towards understanding the physics behind these mysterious and potentially destructive events, the complete picture remains uncertain. Dec 14, 2007 - Noise might cause huge ocean waves - ... if rogue waves really are produced by the same mechanism, scientists will have to find ways of accurately measuring the parameters of the non-linear Schrödinger equation — the degree of non-linearity and dispersion — for the open ocean. What use could giant waves be?

Q-switched lasers used in applications which demand high laser intensities in nanosecond pulses such as metal cutting: Ultrafast optical shutter is switched entirely by laser light - In 2005, a research collaboration ... tested the vanadium dioxide transition with an ultra-fast laser that produced 120-femtosecond pulses. (A femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second. At this time scale, an eye blink lasts almost forever. In the three-tenths of a second it takes to blink an eye, light can travel 56,000 miles. By contrast, it takes 100 femtoseconds to cross the width of a human hair.) The rapidity of the new shutter and enormity of destructive pulse power may facilitate use in AAD or equally valuable applications from a submerged submarine. Only laser's head would penetrate ocean surface. This would leverage abundant nuclear power on subs and capacity for state-of-the-art fire control computers.

Offboard weapons supply - Toshiba Introduces New 10 Year--Quick Charge Industrial Battery - Toshiba has developed a battery that can be recharged in five minutes with a lifespan of 10 years. ... In practical use of the new SCiB its unique composition allows for 4.2 Ah, (ampere hours) on 10 cells for recharging by standard or alternative energy sources. The unique feature of the new product is that after 3,000 recharges the battery only lost less than 10 percent efficiency. Various torpedoes, missiles and autonomous devices stored aboard surface craft could be released undetected for undersea rendevous and replenishment of submarines. Propulsive battery packs would be jettisoned prior to rendezvous, or recharged afterward - all prior to arming.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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