Tag Archives: submarines

TORPEDOS LOS! -The Efficacy of Submarine Warships.

SUBMARINE TASKING. Pursuant to mission accomplishment in support of national policies, and in particular for a duly delineated national armed-force objective to “Project National Power,” submarines can be tasked to launch land-attack cruise-missiles from international waters– as directed unilaterally by our National Command Authority, NCA.

Submarines can be tasked to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance operations inside and outside the battle space, covertly.  In that same vein, submarines can be tasked to insert, and, or retract Special Operating Forces, SOF, on the littoral shores of the world’s oceans– covertly.

In more poignant warfare scenarios, submarines can be tasked to mine sea-lane choke points as well as enemy harbors.

Moreover, and perhaps most particular, submarines can hunt and kill other opposing submarines in the same undersea medium with them.  Besides the deep ocean, that undersea medium includes the shallow waters for our coastal defense as well as that for projecting US national power by amphibious forces in foreign waters.

Notwithstanding the brassy jingoism above, submarines were first procured to sink threatening warships by surprising them from below the sea with the numbing sting of a torpedo.  For over a hundred years now, submarines have been so tasked; and, since WWI, submarines have been tasked to interdict sea lanes and sink unarmed merchant ships to deny re-supply.  Yes, VIRGINIA, an economic strangler lurks in the seaSubmarines Sink Ships!

When SEAWOLFconceptualized in the painting above—was launched in 1995, there were some 24,000 merchant ships of over 1,000 gross-registered-tons plying the sea lanes of the world for international trade and transport.  For national comparison, a table of Merchant Fleets of the World, ranked by number of oceangoing vessels, is provided below delineating a grand total of their displacements as about 657-million dwt (deadweight tons).

As capital-intensive assets—meaning their annual amortized construction cost and operating expense well exceed the cost of labor to operate them—their collective loan-value, without any consigned cargo, can be estimated parametrically to total about $1.5-trillion.  Moreover, the annualized value of their consigned cargo that they deliver each year can be estimated to total about $3.0-trillion.

Ask yourself which of these national economies today could stay afloat with the sunk cost of its Merchant Fleet?

And today, with near instantaneous news around the world, when the first explosion from a submarine-launched torpedo plumes brusquely, so will ocean-shipping insurance rates.

In regard to fleet operations, submarines can be tasked to provide INDIRECT, ASSOCIATED, and DIRECT Battle Group support.  For deployments, Time-On-Station for modern nuclear-powered submarines is dependent only on the amount of food they must carry to feed their crew—like, a 90-day supply, without replenishment.

Some submarine-patrol stations literally are On the Far Side.  For instance, our forward submarine base on Guam in the western Pacific is about 12 days of submerged steaming from San Diego.  Then for a submerged transit from Guam to a patrol station in the Gulf of Oman via the Java Sea and the Lombok Straits thence across the Indian Ocean could take as long as 16 days.

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Synchronized Swimming for Submarines

The autonomous submarines at the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility.

The autonomous submarines at the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility.

Nature shows and Caribbean vacation commercials often depict a school of fish moving as a single entity to avoid obstacles and elude prey. Engineers hope to give unmanned mini-submarines, mini-helicopters and other autonomous vehicles the same coordinated movement.

Derek Paley, assistant professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, recently won a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his proposal to study the coordinated movement of fish and apply it to unmanned submarines.

Unmanned vehicles under multi-vehicle control could navigate more accurately and collect data more reliably than individual vehicles. The Navy plans to use a fleet of unmanned submarines to measure oceanic salinity, temperature and density—the factors that affect the speed of sound through water. These measurements, in turn, will help better predict sonar performance.

Fish signal one another via visual cues and hydrodynamics (the movement of water). A line of tiny hair cells down each side of a fish helps them to sense the flow of the water around them.

Paley is giving a fleet of mini-subs onboard cameras to mimic the visual sensing of fish. Also aboard each 3-foot-long sub is a tiny computer that can process the information from the cameras to determine the relative position of the subs around it and use this information to steer.

Meanwhile, undergraduate student Alexander Leishman is developing sensors for Paley’s subs that will mimic the hair cells of the fish, to help the subs sense changes in the flow of the water.

In lab space provided by biology professor Arthur Popper on the College Park campus, Paley has set up a network of cameras to monitor a school of giant danios (hardy freshwater fish about three inches long) and how they react when they are startled. When one or more fish in a school is startled, they trigger what is known as a “wave of agitation”—one fish takes evasive action, its immediate neighbors follow suit, followed by their neighbors, and so on.

Paley takes the data captured by the cameras and uses it to create 3-d reconstructions of the fish movement. The models will help his research team better understand the information transmission among the fish and apply the same principles to the unmanned vehicles.

“We’re developing modern engineering tools to quantitatively study this phenomenon,” Paley says. “We’re taking methods you learn as an engineering student and applying them to study biology.”

The technology being built for the subs also can be applied to unmanned aerial vehicles.

“We’re looking at planetary-scale applications for these vehicles; for instance, monitoring conditions inside hurricanes to improve forecasting models,” Paley said.

“It’s important to fly lower—below 10,000 feet—to collect data where the air meets the water,” explains Paley. “Manned aircraft can’t fly that low inside a hurricane for safety reasons.”

Paley directs the Collective Dynamics and Control Lab, where he supervises the research projects of twelve undergraduate engineering students who help him build the autonomous submarines. Paley also has six graduate students working on related research including Sachit Butail, a doctoral candidate who is developing an automatic tracking system to monitor the fish and produce data at an unprecedented rate and volume. This fall, Paley will add a neuroscience grad student to his team who will help design and conduct experiments to glean more from the communication behaviors of the fish.


ATIcourses presents courses on both underwater acoustics and submarine combats systems.

INDIA APPROVES $10.7BN SUBMARINE DEAL: The Indian Defence Ministry has approved a Rs500bn ($10.7bn) project to build six new-generation submarines for the Indian Navy. Under the program, which is codenamed Project-75 India (P-75I), all six diesel electric submarines will be built with air-independent propulsion systems and incorporate stealth, land-attack capability and a wide range of next-generation technologies, according to the Times of India. The request for proposal will be issued to global submarine manufacturers, including Rosoboronexport of Russia, DCNS/Armaris of France, HDW of Germany and Navantia of Spain. The construction cost for each of the six submarines will be around Rs85bn ($1.8bn). Three of the six submarines will be built at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai. One will be built at Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam, in cooperation with a foreign company. The remaining two submarines are expected to be directly imported from the foreign collaborator or constructed at a private shipyard in India. The first submarine under P-75I is expected to be launched in six to seven years, according to a defence official. Currently, the Indian Navy operates an aging fleet of 15 diesel submarines.