US Navy to Increase Spending On ASW

I’ll believe it when I see it.  When the US Navy’s top brass claims that “Diversity is Job One” then you know that anything related to warfighting is being seconded to political expediency.

Having said that, there’s an interesting article in Bloomberg Business Week which claims the US is increasing it’s spending on ASW, Anti-Submarine Warfare.  What the article really is, is an advertisement for Ultra Electronics Holdings Plc, a company in the underwater detection equipment business. There are some half-truths and strange comments in it, but worth the time to read.

From the article:

The Pentagon and its allies will focus spending on devices able to spot subs even in the noisiest shipping lanes as China’s naval build-up heightens tensions with neighboring nations and underscores the need to secure commercial shipping flows, Ultra Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Sharma said in an interview.

“Even with global defense cuts the sonar business is expanding,” Sharma said. “Mineral supplies and commodities, for example, are all transported by sea, so it’s becoming imperative to protect trade routes. Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as the U.S., will all start investing in anti-submarine warfare as the possible threat from China grows.”

It’s no coincidence that India, like the US, sees China as the greatest threat to security and stability in the Pacific.  As the PLAN expands it’s submarine force, alongside it’s surface and Naval Air Forces, free nations and those interested in the blessings of liberty should pay close attention.  China wants a blue-water navy, and that means one thing: projection of power.  Those who bother to read might well remember what happened the last time a powerful Asian nation invested in a blue-water navy. The result was the “East Asia Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere.”  Reader’s of AW1 Tim’s Blog know how that turned out.

There’s one section of the article that stood out, and I don’t know if the speaker is being intentionally obtuse or is just ignorant:

…….developing sonars geared to Asia-Pacific operations at a unit in Indiana, the CEO said. Emitting more powerful acoustic pulses, they can spot submarine signatures in the most sound-polluted waters, …….

Anyone whose business it is to do ASW knows that the LAST thing you want to do is use an active sensor. “Pinging” is used for final targeting and attacking. As soon as you light that thing off, EVERYONE knows it. It’s like turning on the light in a dark room and hollering SURPRISE!  A hunter uses stealth to locate and track his target. The idea is to NOT let the target know YOU are there. To find him and attack before he can respond. Active sonar has it’s place. It’s a good thing, but it’s not used as the speaker in this article claims it is.

This part, too is also interesting:

“Water is a very good insulator and when a submarine is sitting on the seabed not moving for days it’s very difficult to identify,” he said.

Submarines, especially nuke boats, don’t sit on the bottom. It’s not just that they risk getting stuck in the muck, literally, but that the silt and mud will be sucked up into the water-intake system and clog it.  For nukes, that risks losing reactor cooling ability.  That’s a bad thing in oh so many ways.

I don’t know whether the reporter simply mis-understood what was being said, or whether the company spokesman mis-spoke. But if you’re in the business of providing ASW technology, then it seems to me to be important that you understand how it works and how it’s employed, or you ought not to be speaking at all.

All in all, though, it would be nice to see the US Navy actually return to being the premier deep-water ASW force it was during the Cold War.  It ought not to be used by politicians as a petri dish for their social-engineering experiments.

Chinese Jin Class SSBN


5 Responses to “US Navy to Increase Spending On ASW”

    November 26, 2011 at 17:15

    Wouldn’t the water flow over that huge missle compartment create all sorts of noise? Especially over all those vent holes?

    • November 26, 2011 at 18:17

      Sure would. For the Chinese, I expect it’s a trade-off. Get something in the water now and work on the problem with later designs.

      Plus, an awful lot of their tech seems to be stolen and reverse-engineered, then adapted to their needs.

    November 26, 2011 at 20:15

    Here, Tim, a seasonal gift for you! In the late 1930’s there was a radio serial called the Cinnamon Bear, where Paddy O’Cinnamon helped Jimmy and Judy Barton recover thier Silver Star, that had been swiped by the Crazy Quilt Dragon. It’s really quite delightful.

    I must say, I actually prefer the dragon to the bear. It’s well worth litening to an episode or two a day, until Christmas.

    Back to this posts topic, would that sub make enough noise that even a P-8 could find it? From 20,000 feet.

  3. 4 TBR
    November 30, 2011 at 13:07

    The challenge in ASW has evolved. With the currently predominant threat types and locations (SSK’s and midgets on confined and shallow waters) cold war era passive sonar in all its highly complex glory is inapplicable. Trying to invest to regain and refine/evolve the largely passive sonar based capabilities that established NATO’s Cold War North Atlantic dominance in ASW would be futile, even if ASW still took place in the same paradigm, as technology, especially signature reduction and SSK AIP technology, has greatly evolved.

    In C&SW surface and air based ASW the environment forces you to go active, especially against threats that can go days without emitting any noise. What is interesting is which desperately needed capabilities the ULTRA CEO doesn’t mention. That’s where ULTRA’s shelves aren’t filled…

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