Thursday, March 29, 2007

CNO: Adding the submarine money, in particular, would be "very destabilizing"

The clash continues between the Navy and many of its Capitol Hill allies. Some senior House lawmakers want to boost ship purchases next year to strengthen the U.S. shipbuilding industry.

Navy officials say industry and military leaders must first stabilize long-range planning and investments in facilities and workforce -- before they can tackle more orders than already planned. (source).

Chief of Naval Operations Michael Mullen said Adding submarine money, in particular, would be "very destabilizing," because it would commit the Navy to additional submarine funding in fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010.

Strange posturing for the Navy? Not with the major submarine designs currently under development. The Navy must always promise Congress that its submarines will have a life of x - years. That means Congress will not allow the Navy to return beforehand and claim the hulls and reactors are worn out and prohibitively expensive to keep in service. In Rickover's day, the durability promise was 25 years. Extraordinary methods were taken for some early nukes to limp along to fulfill that promise.

Today's submarine durability promise is considerably longer, and DOD budgets are significantly tighter. What are the admirals waiting for?

As part of an announced, four-year DARPA/Navy program known as Tango Bravo (technology breakthroughs), _____ will develop an external weapon-launch system that can stow, communicate with and deliver Advanced Capability torpedoes outside the pressure hull. Space-saving is an acknowledged advantage of stowing torpedoes outboard. Finally, the not so obvious advantage of reduced force size (with U.S. submarines of significantly greater flexibility and endurance) is added stealth. That could be tremendous to forward positioning in areas such as the South China Sea. It will require a radically different playing of today's submarine "shell game." Subs could eventually be deployed much longer (over a year?), rotating smaller crews and provisioning as necessary via a submerged tender (mother sub in each theatre) while SUBMERGED. Yes, it may be more practical for DSRV-type subs to ferry between the mother sub and the patrolling SSN/GN/XN.

The fire control (system) power requirement for the HMS Gotland was 75 kW in 1997, for instance. The related power requirement for the 688I class subs was 550 kW. Why do I bring this up? Check this DARPA initiative out: Future Submarine Power Plants and perhaps a hint will be revealed. DARPA, of course, is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Again, what are the admirals waiting for? Could it be newer, more flexible, less expensive submarine designs? Yes.

Submarines, always silent and strange.



At 29 March, 2007 16:43, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Limp along is right. I served on SSN 575.

It won the sore paw award right from the start.

The crew, especially the light and power company, strove mightily and deserve a special place on the right hand side of Hyman's throne.

At 29 March, 2007 18:54, Blogger Vigilis said...

Well said, Reddog!


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