Washington Watch Icon Washington Watch

Photo caption below
RDML Joseph A.Walsh, USN
Submarine Warfare

“Several important
milestones during this period have left the Silent Servicein an even better position to combat the challenges of tomorrow.”

The summer and fall of 2004 will go into the books as one of dynamic change and revitalization for not only the Submarine Force but the U.S. Navy as a whole.

This fall has been bittersweet as we said goodbye to two of our icons: ADM Skip Bowman and VADM Al Konetzni. ADM Bowman has retired after serving 38 years with distinction and leading our force for the last eight years as Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. ADM Kirk Donald, former Commander, Naval Submarine Forces, relieved ADM Bowman on 5 November, in a retirement and change of command ceremony in Washington, D.C. Also leaving our ranks is VADM Al Konetzni, a true legend of the Submarine Force if ever there was one, who retired after 38 years of distinguished service. In addition, on 15 October, VADM Chuck Munns relieved ADM Donald as Commander, Naval Submarine Forces.

Several important milestones during this period have left the Silent Service in an even better position to combat the challenges of tomorrow.

October saw the commissioning of USS Virginia (SSN-774), the first submarine designed to meet the threats of a post-Cold War world. Every bit the embodiment of the modern day adaptable warrior, Virginia is designed to take the fight to the threat and prowl the murky waters of the littorals delivering a range of warfighting capabilities no other ship can boast. This increased littoral mission agility will continue to add to the adaptability and reach of today’s Submarine Force.

In the face of decreasing resources and growing global responsibilities, the CNO instituted the Fleet Response Plan in 2003 to increase the Navy’s effectiveness in maintaining presence with purpose and projecting power from the sea. Under these auspices, SUMMER PULSE ’04 demonstrated the Submarine Force’s ability to surge combat power across the globe quickly for operations in multiple theaters with other U.S., allied, and coalition forces. You can learn more about this important exercise in our feature, “Surge Protectors”.

Elsewhere in this issue you can read how the submarine reserve force, as with all of the Naval Reserve, has evolved and grown in importance. Today they work side by side with their active duty shipmates. The role of the reservist has been tested and strained since the events of September 11, proving that these Sailors are a vital part of the fleet and truly are “twice the citizen”, as they are often described.

As this fall marks the 50th anniversary of Nautilus, who ushered in the modern age of the submarine, we look back to a pivotal time in the evolution of the nuclear age. Frigate Bird, one of a series of tests in 1962 known as Operation Dominic, holds the distinction of being the only end-to-end system test of a strategic nuclear missile – from launch to detonation – ever carried out by either side during the Cold War. And it just so happens that Frigate Bird was launched from a submarine, USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608).

One of the enduring symbols of submarines for the general public will always be that of a commanding officer hunched over, face pressed against the eye piece, scanning the horizon for contacts through the periscope. Since their introduction in the mid-1800s, periscopes have gone from crude refracting devices to modern fiber optics and this issue of UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine takes an interesting look at their evolution.

With an eye to the future, the Submarine Force is poised to extend its dominance of the world’s deep waters and littorals as we take delivery of Jimmy Carter, the last of the Seawolf-class, this December. Texas and Hawaii are working to join the fleet in 2006, and will take their places in a long and superb lineage. On the horizon, North Carolina is more than 50 percent complete. She, along with the rest of the Virginia-class, will have revolutionary technology to conduct, among other things, covert special operations; covert intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare; because, as the cover of this magazine states, stealth truly does matter.

  RDML Walsh Signature
Fall 2004 Cover