Undersea Warfare The Official Publication of the Undersea Warfare Community.  Summer 2003 Issue.  U.S. Submarines… Because Stealth Matters Image of magazine cover
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Photo of RDML TracyIn early June, I relieved RADM Sullivan as the Director of Submarine Warfare (N77) and wish him the best in his new duties as Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. I am honored to be serving as our community’s resource sponsor during this time of dynamic change for the Submarine Force, as we commence putting new submarines to sea with technologies that previous generations of undersea warriors could only imagine.

Today’s challenges are many, but that is what submarine heritage and tradition were created upon. Looking ahead towards the warfighting requirements of the coming decades, our role in support of Sea Power 21 and the attributes submarines bring to the joint battlespace are clear and compelling. In support of the growing complexity and intensity of warfare in the littorals, we have commenced the transformation of TRIDENT Strategic Ballistic Missile Submarines into SSGNs, and welcome the newest and most sophisticated fast-attack submarine in the world, PCU Virginia (SSN-774).

With the recent christening of Virginia and the contract signing for additional Virginia-class submarines, we start yet another chapter in submarine warfare history. The christening of PCU Virginia will be followed next year with the christening of PCU Texas (SSN-775), with others following at a rate of one per year for the near future. After a six year gap, we have started in the correct direction, but we will need to build at least two Virginia-class submarines a year to meet our Navy and our nation’s defense requirements.

As our Force Commander has stated, our modern Submarine Force has brought the United States a unique competitive advantage in undersea warfare. Among the other nations in the world few can compete with us. The barriers to being competitive in the world of undersea warfare include advanced and unique technologies, sophisticated engineering skills and discipline, unique infrastructure, and – very importantly – experience. We must use our competitive advantage to confuse, confound, disrupt, discourage and, if that’s not enough, defeat our adversaries.

If fully exploited, this asymmetric advantage offers the opportunity not for marginal superiority, but for warfighting dominance. The future SSGN Submarine Force – USS Ohio (SSGN-726), Michigan (SSGN-727), Florida (SSGN-728), and Georgia (SSGN-729) – along with Virginia and her sister ships, will contribute to our asymmetric advantage and enhance stability throughout the world.

In this edition of UNDERSEA WARFARE, you will read about the return home of several submarines from successfully supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, and about the extraordinary support our submarine tenders gave to this effort. Also in this issue, you will read of the cooperation between the U.S., French, and Peruvian navies in the recently conducted Silent Forces Exercise (SIFOREX). The three-day event off the coast of Peru gave our Navy Sailors an opportunity to test their ASW skills against stealthy, diesel-powered submarines.

Even as we look toward the future, we should never forget the wealth of experience and heritage in submarining from which to draw inspiration. Showcased in this edition is an article from CDR Jeff Tall, a former skipper of both diesel and nuclear powered submarines of the British Royal Navy who now serves as Director of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum at Gosport. He offers his perspective on the characteristics that make a good submariner – lessons that need little translation for those serving under the stars and stripes. Also, you will read of the pioneering work of John Holland, remembered as the “Father of the Modern Submarine” in a special section. While we often take submerged operations for granted today, imagine the courage it took for the first U.S. submariners to test those designs and how many of Holland’s ideas and work remain in use even in an age of nuclear power and computer automation.

Finally, I wish to thank the Naval Submarine League for their support of our Annual Photo Contest and congratulate all the photographers who submitted their works. These photographs help boost the pride of all of us who serve in the Silent Service, and I congratulate the winners. Job well done.

Signature of RDML Michael C. Tracy

RDML Michael C. Tracy, USN
Director, Submarine Warfare

Photo of RADM Sullivan Admiral's Note
As I transition from N77 to SUBPAC, I leave the program managers and staff of the Submarine Warfare Division in the capable hands of RDML Mike Tracy, who comes to the Pentagon after a successful tour as COMSUBGRU-2. I want to use this opportunity to thank the members of my former staff for their efforts in helping to shepherd transformational ideas through the difficult Beltway bureaucratic process to fruition in the fleet. Their efforts ensure that every member of the Submarine Force is equipped and ready to meet the challenges now and in the future.

Thank you all for your continued and steadfast dedication and service to the Submarine Force.

RADM Paul F. Sullivan