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Senator JOHNSTON. Is it an attack submarine, you say?
Admiral MCKEE. The Soviets have to build size into an attack submarine if they are going to be able to put a lot of power in it (deleted].
If you are going to put that investment in the propulsion plant, you might as well put an investment in weapons. It tends to make the boat bigger, [deleted]. It is a pretty good looking boat, too.
Senator MCCLURE. How do they compare on quietness?
It is interesting, too, you know, we study while the Soviets build. [Laughter.]
When we were at the point we are now in our new submarine with the Los Angeles class, I was a lieutenant commander. That is the last
the Los Angubmarine we havevanced very ra
Chairman HATFIELD. You advanced very rapidly. (Laughter.]
It is interesting. The intelligence folks tell us that when Los Angeles went to sea and performed as well as she did, the Soviets started the Akula project and brought it to fruition just about the time we hoped to get going on our new submarine project.
SSN-21 IMPROVEMENTS The new submarine is designed to have a number of advantages and improvements over the 688 and over the opposition. It is supposed to be quieter, faster, dive deeper, carry more weapons, be tougher, able to withstand more battle damage, and stay on the line longer while cartying a much heavier payload overall [deleted].
The reason I bring these submarines up here is not because I am here to advertise the whole submarine. My business is the propulsion plant, but none of the other advances can be achieved unless we achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves in the propulsion plant.
Senator JOHNSTON. Can you tell me quickly, Admiral, why it is that an attack submarine is so much better than a surface ship for attacking other submarines?
Admiral McKEE. For one reason, you always know when a surface ship is coming. A submarine, a quiet submarine, will always get to shoot first, and that is a big deal if you get to shoot first.
Another reason is that a submarine is designed to operate alone and unsupported in waters controlled by the enemy, so a submarine can go all by itself well up into the backyard of the other guy and get them where they think they are safe.
A surface ship simply can't do that. He has to take a lot of folks with him. He has to take air cover with him and other support. So there are significantly important portions of the ocean where the other guy is most vulnerable and only submarines can operate easily.
Finally, the Soviets intend to use the Arctic extensively and the only thing that can work up there is a submarine. So that is why it is important.
ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE You asked about how quiet. Generally we can talk about what is quieter than what, but you have to look at quieting across the speed range. The faster a ship goes, the more noise it makes. To give you an idea, a modern submarine, such as 688 class, is relatively quiet until it gets to about [deleted] and then as it goes faster, the [deleted] noise begins to grow. That is a problem until it gets to the point where the [deleted] .
Let's look first at where the operational Soviet submarines are today in comparison with the 688. With our most modern sonar, we can pick up [deleted). So there is a substantial difference. That is the acoustic advantage.
The Akula, the boat I have [deleted).
However, at higher speeds, Akula has [deleted] problems that drive its noise emission up. Our job in the new design submarine is to build a boat that will be so quiet [deleted] that there is no difference.
(Deleted.) that is the task that we have set for ourselves.
Admiral McKEE. Yes, sir; we can do that. It is a different process. Admiral Rickover used to say, “Making it nuclear is easy now. Making it quiet is very hard.” We are doing things in this effort that are far more complex. We are looking at noises we never paid any attention to
begre compleery hard. a to say, "...can do anh?
For example, we didn't care what (deleted).
Perhaps one of the most significant improvements is [deleted], and I will talk to you about that. We are going to put that to sea well ahead of the boat. (Deleted.] By designing the reactor the way we are going to do it [deleted].
There is a lot of development that is going on for the submarine as well as the propulsion plant. That is not in my program, but I just thought I would show it to you really in regard to your question, “Can you achieve it?"
These are submarine developments that have to be brought to fruition for this submarine to do what we need to do and these are features that will be at sea long before the new submarine has gone to sea. They will be at sea in other applications.
In my business, our task translates into making a plant that is quieter, has substantially better power density-by that I mean power per unit weight-and from the standpoint of cost effectiveness we have to make it as producible as we possibly can.
The developments that I am involved in are primarily being done under my DOE hat, although some of that is being done with Navy money as well, because the Navy owns a stake in quieting. But I also am responsible for the design of the entire propulsion plant, including the work that is being done by the rest of the Navy.
The end product will be a reactor plant that will be [deleted) more powerful than the 688 and only [deleted] heavier. That is what gives us the agility we must have in this submarine.
SUBMARINE DETECTION Senator JOHNSTON. Admiral, given adequate funding, do the oceans continue to be more opaque rather than more translucent as the Chief of Naval Operations used to say?
Admiral McKEE. Yes, sir. They only get translucent at budget time when the Air Force testifies. (Laughter.]
It gets harder and harder and harder to find a submarine. The environment in the ocean is terribly difficult to predict and is subject to all kinds of vagaries that just compound and any physical approach makes it extraordinarily difficult. The ocean is not going to become transparent in my lifetime, sir, and probably not in the lifetime of this ship.
One never knows what may be in the middle of the next century, but nobody has seen anything that offers any prospect of a system that would put a submarine force at risk.
There are always things that will find a submarine in a place if you know when and where to look. But for submarine force vulnerability to make any sense, an antagonist has to bring, at risk, most of the submarine force, all at the same time, or there is no vulnerability at all in the strategic sense.
That is virtually impossible. We have even postulated hypothetical devices and tried to run them against that kind of distribution. It just doesn't make any sense.
To get the SSN-21 as quiet as we are talking about, can we do it? We have to do a number of things. I won't go through all of them, but this is a list of what we have done and have not done before. We have a test facility [deleted].
We are also building a quarter-scale model of the submarine [deleted].
Those are very important to us. We also mockup the whole plant in wood to make sure it makes or ganizational and technical sense.
The [deleted] is a DOE facility at the Bettis Laboratory. As I said, [deleted). We will actually build the entire reactor with no active material (deleted).
SSN-21 STATUS To put in perspective where we are, the conceptual design and preliminary design has been completed and we are coming to the end of contract design for the ship. But in order for me to validate the design features, I had to start work much earlier.
I am already in detail design of the plant and major components are already in procurement for use in testing. I will build a core and put it in an existing prototype plant rather than build a new plant. That will save a lot of money as well. With some plant modifications I can get an equivalent test out of that.
Although at some point in time within the next few years, we will need to build a next generation plant and a new prototype. There is some seed money in the budget for that.
PROGRAM BUDGET Now what does that all cost? To put it in perspective, my budget submission in 1987 was $20 million under the target that we were given earlier and which represented about a 3-percent increase over the prior year.
That number did not have the Gramm-Rudman impact figured in, but the 1986 number now has the Gramm-Rudman percentage applied so there is an apparent growth here that wasn't there before. It did not originate in my program.
Senator JOHNSTON. Why are the operating expenses so much larger than capital equipment?
Admiral MCKEE. Well, let me show you where my operating expense money goes. I have a large capital plant in operation, but I just don't buy a lot of things every year. We are really a pretty low-budget outfit in that regard.
If you put both my laboratories together, there is less floor space than the smallest of the DOE weapons laboratories and one-tenth of the computer capacity. They need that; I don't. So we don't buy it.
Much of my operating expense money goes to operate and maintain the prototypes and keep them operating safely. I have to spend some money on the advanced test reactor out in Idaho. That is a facility which belongs to others in DOE, but I am the only customer, so I pay most of the support.
Research and development, materials evaluation, plant development are major expenses, and about 23 percent of my funds go toward the advanced fleet reactor plant I was showing you for the new submarine. Mr. Chairman, that is all I came with, in a formal sense. [The statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF ADM. KINNAIRD R. McKEE
Piscal Year 1987 is a critical year for the Navy and the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. A confluence of several current events could profoundly affect the Navy's nuclear powered fleet, including those ships now in the inventory, those we expect to build, and the men who will sail them. One of these is our request for initial funds to procure long lead material for our first new design attack submarine in twenty years, the SSN-21 -SEAWOLF. However, before discussing Seawolf, I would like to
bring you up to date on the overall program.
We now have 177 nayal reactor plants in 149 ships and eight land
based prototype plants. Nuclear-powered ships now comprise more
than 40% of the Navy's combatant fleet.
Last year we added four
more ships to the fleet, and we have 27 additional ships authorized or under construction. Our responsibility for safe and reliable nuclear propulsion plant operation continues to expand as the fleet grows and ages. Half our operating ships are approaching their initial design lifetimes.
Our nuclear-powered ships represent a highly leveraged investment in national defense. When their contribution is weighed against their relatively small and stable resource requirements, it becomes apparent just how good a bargain these ships really are. But we must remember that this leverage works both ways. The potential impact of an apparently small pro-rata reduction on safety and operational effectiveness is way out of proportion to its real dollar value.
Nuclear-powered ships have now steamed over 65 million miles, without a reactor accident and without release of radioactivity having a significant effect on the environment. This record reflects the continuous adherence to high standards and technical