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Two years later, Admiral Jellicoe lost a singular opportunity to defeat the High Seas Fleet when he failed to pursue after the Germans broke off the engagement at Jutland.
German submarines went on to sink over 5,000 allied ships, 15 million tons, during World War I. In World War II, they sank over 20 million tons. The Battle of the Atlantic required the
commitment of immense tactical Allied resources to regain control
of that ocean from German submarines. In the Pacific, o.s. submarines accounted for two-thirds of Japanese merchant marine losses and tied up or sank significant elements of the Japanese Pleet; all with a submarine force that represented about three percent of our Pacific fleet.
The physical damage inflicted by submarines in both wars was of critical importance, but their overall contribution was much greater because they forced major diversions of resources in every maritime theatre. The mere suspicion of a submarine presence was enough to influence ship captains, fleet commanders and war planners alike. That has not changed. In the recent Palklands campaign, the sinking of one old cruiser, Belgrano, by the British nuclear submarine, Conqueror, was enough to convince Argentine military leaders they should keep their fleet in port for the duration. They did so, not really knowing whether the British had one submarine in the area or many. After the sinking, they did not even know whether one was there at all. That terrible uncertainty disabled the Argentine fleet far more than the loss of a single cruiser.
Op to this point, what I have described is the application of basic principles of warfare that will remain as useful in the future as they have been in the past. These include such
concepts as security of the base, availability of reserves, cover and deception, concentration of force, and tactical flexibility. Nuclear powered attack submarines create the opportunity to convert these principles into substantial leverage in an even broader dimension.
Today's balanced naval forces are structured to apply these principles in six primary mission areas. The naval strategic deterrent mission is accomplished entirely by our ballistic missile submarines. Our attack submarines have become principal players in strike, anti-submarine, and mine warfare. They also have important supporting roles in amphibious and anti-air
Our submarines can do these things because of their unique characteristics. They are invisible on station. They can operate alone and unsupported in waters controlled by the enemy,
though they also have the ability to operate in coordination with
other forces. Finally, they have what it takes to survive in the
face of numerically superior opposition. Skillfully employed,
our attack submarines can exercise a major influence on the employment of Soviet ships and aircraft -- and in so doing, multiply the effectiveness of our other forces.
What I have just described is guerrilla warfare at sea. Stealth, maneuverability, and firepower are determining factors in that environment. Increased firepower is already on the way with the advent of vertical launchers in the LOS ANGELES class. In submarine warfare, stealth calls for quiet operation while maneuverability dictates a need for speed and depth. These requirements night appear to conflict, but we have the technology to resolve that conflict and obtain increased quiet speed and depth.
LOS ANGELES Class
The design of our present first line attack submarine was something we were working on in the mid 1960's when I was a Lieutenant Commander on Admiral Rickover's staff. Even that was not a completely new ship design. To achieve higher speed, we
simply added a more powerful propulsion plant to the basic
weapons and sensors arrangement of the STURGEON class. When the
importance of increasing speed became evident, what was intended
as a one-of-a-kind experiment quickly expanded into an entire
class of submarines -- our present LOS ANGELES Class.
The LOS ANGELES Class exceeded our expectations right from the first, and we have continued to improve the product. Over the years, and within the constraints of the basic design, we have substantially upgraded sensors, weaponry, and quieting. The most recent example is incorporation of vertical cruise missile launchers beginning with the FY 1978 ships. But there are limits to how far we can go with the existing design. We have virtually exhausted the possibilities for the LOS ANGELES Class.
The Soviet View
The Soviets clearly understand the utility of submarines and the extraordinary level of resource commitment needed to counter a serious submarine threat. Again, the precedent is historical. Soviet Admiral of the pleet Gorshkov sized it up this way:
For each German U-boat, there were 25 British
forces, which were so numerous and technically up
Submarines offer the Soviets the same leverage they offer us, although we enjoy a significant geographical advantage. If we did not have submarines capable of getting into their backyard, they could concentrate major forces against supply lines we need for NATO reinforcement and against other naval forces. In short, they can pose many of the same problems for us that we do for them -- problems that can only be countered effectively by stateof-the-art o.s. submarines operating near their shores.
Soviet New Developments
Admiral Gorshkov knows this as well as we do. He is determined to build the best submarine force in the world and to do so in significant numbers. The range and depth of the Soviet
submarine design and construction effort is awesome. Two recent
products of the system attest to its momentum and to the determination of its sponsors. Last year, while we were developing and justifying requirements for the first new 0.s. attack submarine design in over twenty years, the Soviets launched two new SSNs, each believed to be the first of a class. Our 688 class will have to contend with those ships next year. Our new design sss will have to contend with other, more advanced Soviet designs we expect to appear over the next decade.
Meanwhile, Soviet VICTOR IIIS patrol our side of the Atlantic now. They are very quiet and capable submarines. It is also interesting to note that production of the less quiet ALFA Class appears to have been terminated after a run of seven. Apparently they view the ALFA less useful than the quieter and more capable VICTOR III.
The Soviets have a numerical advantage today - and unless we act quickly, they will eventually gain the qualitative advantage they need to neutralize the leverage we now enjoy.
The New Attack Submarine
We are at a point today where submarines can exercise the same sort of revolutionary influence on naval warfare that the advent of sea based air power brought to World War II. Yet this in no way diminishes the individual and collective usefulness of other naval forces. The leverage and tactical utility of our modern carrier battle groups and amphibious forces still weigh heavily in all of our plans. What submarine forces provide is enhancement, and the ability to influence where and how the Soviets elect to commit their naval resources. We must preserve the qualitative advantage of our submarines that makes this
We have the technology in hand for a new submarine that will substantially out-perform our LOS ANGELES Class, and which should preserve our lead. We need to get on with building the new submarine. It will have a marked improvement in quiet speed, greater depth, better detection capabilities, and greater firepower. We can afford to build these ships without disrupting other important programs. They will not be inexpensive, but they are a good investment, with a high rate of return in terms of the forces they can destroy and the leverage they can provide.
Attack Submarine Summation
In the final analysis, our attack submarines provide unprecedented flexibility and leverage. A relatively small force of 100 modern attack submarines when properly manned and used offers our defense planners substantial opportunities to increase