We continue to innovate and push the technology envelope with state of the art communications systems to give our submarines the capability to communicate with other forces at tactically useful depths and speeds.
RADM Joseph A. Walsh, USN, Director, Submarine Warfare
This past April we celebrated the 106th birthday of our Submarine Force. I am confident that submariners around the globe celebrated and reveled in our storied past and the rich legacy of those who have gone before us. Keeping in mind those submariners who have gone before us, my Deputy, Rear Admiral Mike Klein, had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the Submarine Service Wreath Laying Ceremony, held annually at the Navy Memorial here in Washington, DC to recognize those submariners who remain on “eternal patrol.” For those of you who were unable to attend this ceremony, I ask that you take a moment to savor our history, and remember those who have rendered the highest service any American can offer to our nation.
Today, our Submarine Force continues this legacy along with the innovative spirit of men like Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey and the crew of USS Barb. The Barb is credited with being the first submarine to destroy enemy supplies and coastal fortifications with submarine launched rocket attacks, and who later, inserted an eight-man “SOF” team onto the shores of the Japanese homeland to destroy a coastal supply train. It is with this spirit we have returned to service our first modern-day “Barb” – USS Ohio (SSGN-726), whose strike, SOF and expansive payload capabilities will dramatically increase the range of missions our Submarine Force can accomplish. Additionally, USS Florida (SSGN-728) was delivered back to the Navy on April 8, 2006.
Over the next several months, we will continue to test and evaluate Ohio and Florida’s SOF and strike missions, and their future capabilities. Exercise MIGHTY MALLET, a recently completed exercise to test one of these future capabilities, evaluated the viability of deploying Air Force Para-Rescue Jumpers (PJs) from SSGNs on downed pilot rescue missions using USS Alabama (SSBN-731) as an SSGN-surrogate. You can read more about this exercise on page 4 of this issue.
We continue to innovate and push the technology envelope with state of the art communications systems to give our submarines the capability to communicate with other forces at tactically useful depths and speeds. An in-depth technical discussion of the advances related to communications at speed and depth can be found on page 8.
Today, nearly forty countries possess diesel-electric submarines. As the sophistication, endurance, and quieting of these submarines improve, so must our understanding of their capabilities and tactics. To this end, the Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI) was established to give our submarine crews the opportunity to train with modern, quiet diesel-electric submarines – the type of force we would potentially face in a future conflict. However, we are not the only ones who benefit from this partnership. Our submarine allies, such Peru and Colombia, gain invaluable training through sub on sub exercises, and post exercise reconstruction and analysis. An insightful report on the DESI project can be found on page 18.
You will find an overview of the office of the Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy on page 21. From this office, Rear Admiral Fred Byus provides our forces with the oceanographic and navigation tools needed to successfully operate in the maritime battlespace.
Finally, on page 24, UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine takes a look at Alligator, an attempt by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War to field its first operational submarine. Alligator has been overshadowed by the more famous CSS H. L. Hunley, and for a time, was nearly forgotten by all but a few dedicated naval historians. The Office of Naval Research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have rekindled interest in this elusive submarine, and having been working hard to locate its final resting place.
On a personal note, I would like to wish “fair winds and following seas” to LCDR Wayne Grasdock, the former military editor of this magazine. He will report as Executive Officer of USS Nebraska (SSBN-739)(BLUE) after completing the Submarine Command Course.
As the Silent Service presses on through this transformational year, it is important to take a step back and appreciate – even if just for a moment – the fantastic job our Sailors are doing in support of the safety and security of our Nation.
BZ to each and every one of you, and happy 106th birthday to the U.S. Submarine Force!