“It is our senior enlisted members – from our Chief Petty Officer selectees to our seasoned COBs – that set the standards for our crews. I would like to congratulate the new Submarine Force CPOs.”
RDML Joseph A. Walsh, USN, Director, Submarine Warfare
Our Submarine Force has been busy around the globe in support of our national security objectives and in sending to sea the world’s most technically advanced equipment. More than ever, we continue to maintain the nation’s maritime superiority. The first two of the SSGN conversions, USS Ohio (SSGN-726) and USS Florida (SSGN-728), are nearly complete. Ohio will start sea trials this fall and will be delivered soon afterwards. USS Virginia (SSN-774) is on deployment, originally scheduled for 2009, to conduct a GWOT operation that will make use of the latest submarine technology available, while at the same time enhance submarine operational availability.
In addition to these platforms, demonstration testing of the Littoral Warfare Weapon (LWW) and at-sea testing of the Unmanned Undersea Vehicle-Long Term Mine Reconnaissance System (UUV-LMRS) will occur this fall. At-sea testing of Communications at Speed and Depth (CSD) is in progress and the latest diving suit, the Atmospheric Diving System (ADS), which allows diving excursions to 2,000 feet, will be delivered to the Navy before the end of the year.
In short, we are having a busy and successful year. Many of the programs we have been working on for several years are coming to fruition and will ensure the U.S. Submarine Force maintains undersea warfare dominance.
Although we are enthusiastic about these and other new technologies, it is our people who offer us the most encouragement. With that in mind, we are proud to welcome our new Chief Petty Officers. It is our senior enlisted members – from our Chief Petty Officer selectees to our seasoned COBs – that set the standards for our crews. I would like to congratulate the new Submarine Force CPOs. You should be rightfully proud of your contribution to the Submarine Force, the Navy and our nation. BZ on reaching this pinnacle – the Submarine Force is counting on you to lead with pride. As our new CNO, ADM Mike Mullen, would say, “Listen, Learn, and Lead!”
Speaking of leading the way, on page 12, you’ll find an account by a U.S. submariner who recently completed the Dutch “Perisher” course and qualified for SSK command in the Netherlands. His account of this challenging and intense course offers unique insights and perspectives on submarine command.
This year’s NATO submarine escape and rescue exercise, Sorbet Royal, was recently conducted by 13 allied nations off the coast of Italy. You can read more about this highly successful event, which improved many aspects of submarine rescue efforts, on page 18. Considering the recent events that resulted in seven Russian submariners trapped in a mini-submarine, this exercise was timely. The resulting international rescue effort and the activation of the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) in Norfolk, Va., were vital to the success of the rescue efforts.
Also in this issue – on page 21 – readers will find a related article about the submarine force of the former Soviet Union. It takes a hard look at the events surrounding the 1986 loss of a Soviet Yankee Class ballistic missile submarine, the K-219. Co-authored by a U.S. submariner and the former Executive Officer of the K-219, this article presents an insightful look at the factors, both personnel and material, which led to the sinking of that ship.
The U.S. Submarine Force has also had its setbacks – the tragic loss of the USS Thresher (SSN-593) in 1963 was one of them. However, the follow-on development of the Submarine Safety (SUBSAFE) program did a lot to ameliorate the problems that emerged – and now, SUBSAFE is at the heart of a collaborative effort to improve mission and quality assurance in both the Navy and NASA. In 2002, NASA approached the SUBSAFE program for new ideas on improving their own internal mission and quality assurance methods. On page 6, you can learn about the resulting NASA/Navy Benchmarking Exchange (NNBE), an effort that is providing great benefits for both organizations.
In closing, I want to reiterate that by themselves, the best platforms and systems in the world will not ensure our ability to maintain undersea superiority. It is you, the men and women of the Submarine Force, who will keep us in that enviable position. Keep up the great work.