Undersea Warfare Team,

I recently relieved as the Director of Undersea Warfare (N97), and my wife, Martha, and I are very excited to be back in the DC area. Under the supervision of my deputy, Capt. Brian Howes (ret), our team of “combat investors” is the best in the business and very attuned to our near-, mid-, and long-term financial requirements. For my part, I happily provide the guidance and connective tissue that binds our investments with our peacetime and warfighting missions, all within the structure of the CNO’s Design and our Force Commander’s Guidance. As the new director, I think it’s important to provide to you, in clear terms, what these missions really are. For those who have worked with me in the past, it should come as no surprise that I will view our investment priorities through the lens of these missions.

In basic terms, we have two warfighting missions: Strategic Deterrence and Theater Undersea Warfare (TUSW), both of which have inherent skills applicable in peace and war.

First, on the Strategic Deterrence front, Ohio Replacement is on track to phase-replace its predecessor and the first hull will transition to “ship construction” within the next few weeks. The shipbuilders have done a remarkable job of not just designing a worthy replacement for the Ohio class, but doing so in an exceedingly efficient and cost effective manner. For example, although more than twice the size of Virginia, Ohio Replacement will be built in approximately the same amount of time. Think about that for a moment. This boat remains our Navy’s number one priority, and it is incumbent upon all of us in the Force to understand what it means to our nation.

Second, TUSW is a term we need to be comfortable with. It is the integrated fight that encompasses our specific missions in support of larger Fleet objectives—in short, it’s what we do. To that end, and more specifically, we are responsible for attriting the enemy and providing access. Accordingly, TUSW includes the combined operations of Theater Anti-Submarine Warfare (TASW), Theater Anti-Surface Warfare (TASUW), Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), strike, and Special Operations Forces (SOF) in both independent and netted environments; and we do this from a universally offensive posture. To date, we have 12 Virginia-class boats at sea and 12 under construction. We are delivering two per year and working on a unified build strategy that maintains this pace while building Ohio Replacement. But—and this is important—we must be equally committed to supporting the larger undersea team of Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems (IUSS), specific elements of surface and aviation assets, unmanned systems, and the growing capabilities of our key allies. It takes a village to conduct effective TUSW, and the key attributes are speed, stealth, endurance, lethality, and connectivity.

That’s my primer. In future issues I will provide updates on our progress in improving and advancing these missions. This edition of UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine, however, focuses on operations in the undersea domain in the Pacific, highlighting our partnerships with foreign navies, articulated in their own words, regarding capabilities, goals and motivations. Please enjoy the read and please reach out to us with topics (or inputs) for our next edition. It is a great time to be a Submariner, and I look forward to working with all of you as we advance the preeminent undersea force into the future. We own the seas.


W.R. Merz