The Navy’s Greatest Fear: Submarines Could Soon Be Obsolete

    James Holmes

    Security,

    Just like the battleship? 

    For instance, ASW hunters could look for minute disturbances a submarine makes to its tactical surroundings. The most hydrodynamic hull makes a wake as it travels through water. Engineering plants discharge heat. Undersea craft may interfere with sea life as they pass. Finding such traces of an American sub’s presence—and parleying that information into actionable tracking and targeting data—would nullify its core advantage in whole or in part—namely its ability to vanish beneath the waves. A visible boat is a vulnerable boat. The competition between hiders and finders could swing decisively in favor of super-empowered sub finders after six decades of supremacy for the hiders.

    S’pose Bryan Clark has it right. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) analyst and retired U.S. Navy commander postulates that a technological revolution is about to overtake undersea warfare, rendering the wine-dark sea transparent to hostile antisubmarine (ASW) forces for the first time. This would be a bad thing from the standpoint of U.S. naval mastery. It would place in jeopardy America’s capacity to execute an ambitious foreign policy in distant waters, preside over the liberal maritime order, or accomplish all manner of worthy goals.

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