Questioning the 2020 CVW

June 2012


The following letter is dated June 22, 2012. This is a good question.

Dear Admiral Greenert:

We appreciate your renewed emphasis on the principle of “Warfighting First” for our Naval forces. As part of this focus, you have discussed the imp01tance of the U.S. Navy being prepared for the maturing anti-access/area-denial (A2/ AD) threat environment, and specifically the “challenges posed by emerging threats to access like ballistic and cruise missiles, advanced submarines and fighters, electronic warfare and mines.” One of the places where we know these challenges exist is in the western Pacific Ocean, where the Department of the Navy is attempting to provide the military resources to support the Administration’s “rebalancing” initiative. Given these developments, we believe that the growing A2/ AD capabilities in this region, combined with other immutable characteristics like the geographic “tyranny of distance,” demand a careful review of our future capabilities.

As you know, our eleven nuclear-power aircraft carriers (CVN) give us the ability to surge combat power to a regional crisis at the time and place of our choosing, making them a critical component of our focus on the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, the long distances in the region combined with A2/ AD challenges raise questions about the future strike power of the Carrer Air-Wing (CVW). As we posture our forces, is the planned CVW of the 2020s structured to meet the range, persistence, stealth, ISR, and payload demands that will be required to operate in this theater? We would appreciate your help in understanding the cost and capability trade-offs that you are considering as you plan the Carrier Air Wing of the future. As always, thank you for your service to the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, and the Nation.


J. Randy Forbes
Member of Congress

Todd Akin
Member of Congress

Posted by galrahn in Navy, Policy

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  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Other than too few bird farms; too short legged birds; of insufficient diversity; too little training in anything but strike warfare; and all planning going to getting less of all the above; the Navy is in great shape. Except for a totally inadequate inventory of fleet auxiliaries with all military crews and too few attack submarines and SSBN’s; everything is great. Did I mention a shortage of experienced first class petty officers which is looming in the near future?

    So it is all truly good. Just absolutely perfect.

    One little problem. You will find the want of frigates graven upon our hearts.

    • Another very well stated comment. Thank you…fromm one Gramps to another.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Welcome to the “Naval Century”. Just not OUR Naval Century.

    Do more with less. Five equals eight. Mike Mullen’s version of “integrity”.

    We will pay with the lives of our young sailors and Marines once again if we are to be tested and these problems rectified. If they can be rectified.

  • Cap’n Bill

    Without searching the Bible I am not aware of any historical precedent for anyone doing more with less when going against a determined enemy of greater strength and equivalent smartz. Who can nominate anyone capable of performing magic on demand ?

  • Andy (JADAA)

    You’ve summed it up, nicely. But none of the negatives will be said, publicly, unless CNO has decided to retire. Sadly, my cynicism meter pegged by 1992 when we were treated to the beginnings of the first draw-down and I stood in a CVN’s fo’c’sle and listened to some of the most egregious Flag happy talk I’d experienced. Since then, with some very notable recent exceptions, I have been less than receptive of most pronouncements from Big Navy.

    Nonetheless, even with a change in Occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2013, the Defense budget for 2013 will be set by the current SECDEF with the direction from his President. There will no heading changes until at least 2014, at the earliest. The sad fact is that right now we don’t even have any possible quick-build prototypes that could even be flown.

  • Byron

    The pre-eminent threat of both world wars was the submarine. We will not be able to face the same threat and succeed in the next war for… Frigates.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    @Byron –

    I seem to remember a little something about a British submarine chasing the entire Argentine Navy back into port some time last century – I think it was in ’82.

    Here’s a link to something that was done at the Naval War College that may refresh some memories:


    – Kyon

  • Surfcaster

    Diogenes of NJ,

    Yes it would suck if potential enemy submarines had parts of our fleet bottled up in port. LCS might not be enough even if they have the mission packages working. Your Destroyers – the meat of your AAW – might be tasked with choosing or doing ASW or AAW. You no longer have S3 operating from your carriers and you have a lot fewer P3 being replaced by far fewer P8.

    Could be a Frigate with extra helo capacity dedicated ASW/AAW (ESSM) capability AND the ability to field some of these always almost ready to deliver LCS modules might be in order.

  • Derrick

    So I guess the consensus of this particular set of commentators is that what is already in existence is insignificant to protect US interests in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and further draw downs will just make the US navy completely useless?

    Is that a correct understanding?

  • Diogenes of NJ

    @Surfcaster –

    The best ASW platform going is a SSN.

    Semper Procinctum.

    – Kyon

  • Byron

    “The best ASW platform going is a SSN.”

    Well, except for two helos and dunking sonar….

  • Diogenes of NJ


    The real ASW action is deep under the layer. Skimmers and aircraft can’t do that. VDS is just a band-aid, it can’t get under a deep layer. Aircraft eventually run out of gas, but they seldom run aground so they are good for shallow areas.

    Hunter/killer submarines a.k.a. SSNs have been (since the advent of nuclear power) and will be for the foreseeable future THE primer ASW platform in the open ocean.

    – Kyon

  • Surfcaster

    Diogenes of NJ – agree. But at 2.5-3bil a pop we won’t see many of them.

  • Byron

    If you’re deep under the layer you won’t likely let a torp loose and surely not a missile; all that air you know, not to mention the noise. I’ll settle for a mission-kill…

  • alfred_the_great

    The right ship-borne VDS can go deeper than the crush depth of most SSNs. I can chase you up and down the water column all day long and never get tired.

    I would suggest that ASW remains an all-arms endeavour, and suggestion one platform can do it all shows a ‘one-eyed attitude’ that will probably get you killed.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Can we get back above the surface? The post is regarding the range and capabilities of the CVW, of which ASW is but one mission.

    ATG has a good observation. The “combined arms” approach is always the most effective, even at sea.

  • Byron

    Actually, you have to talk about ASW…there are three primary threats to the CSG: Air launched cruise missles, land/ sea launched cruise missles and submarines. The escorts should be able to handle the missiles. ASW is a huge problem as we’ve emasculated our organic ability to hunt subs. The S-3 had the ability to loiter a long time and it had good range to prosecute second and third CZ attacks. What we lack is the all-around inexpensive frigates ability to use its tail and it’s organic ASW helos to hunt subs far enough out to forestall a successful torpedo or cruise missle attack.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    Didn’t say that SSNs should be the only ASW platform. Diogenes believes in a “combined arms” ASW approach (as long as you guys on top don’t shoot at the submarines that are protecting you from the enemy submarines – friendly fire directed at our submarines happened frequently in WW II).

    If VDS can break the tether and provide the sustained speed, maneuver and weapons delivery capability of a SSN, then I’d say that you have something there.

    @Byron – the tubes and the fish work at any depth that the boat can reach (maybe even deeper).

    Surfcaster’s right about the cost however – pity.

    So to put this all to rest before URR walks his fire back upon us – GBW was right in the first place. The Pacific Ocean is the biggest thing on the planet and there isn’t enough of anything we’ve got to cover it. WW II ended with a better than 6,000 ship Navy. While today’s ships, submarines and aircraft are considerably more capable, the one capability that they will never have is to be in two places at the same time.

    – Kyon

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Agreed that ASW is a part of the conversation. But just part.

    But the purpose of the CVSG is more than just sailing around protecting itself from threats.

    The CVW is integral to several other missions, many of which have been atrophied far more than ASW.

  • Byron

    The CSG has to survive to get to launch point; ergo, it must be able to defend itself, ergo, ASW IS part of the conversation.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    You must have missed where I said:

    “Agreed that ASW is a part of the conversation.”

  • Rich B

    Yet again we see a culture fighting the last war rather than looking ahead to the next. IF we ever need to exert military force, show the flag or project power in opposition to the Chinese actions a single CVBG will fall woefully lacking.

    The Chinese order of battle alone would be sufficient to keep us outside of operational areas if the wished to hold us outside the outer island chain (The Great Wall at Sea concept for those familiar,)

    China has enough missile patrol craft to do the job;
    (by UNCLAS sources)
    Houbei (Type 022) class missile boat – 83 in service
    Houjian (Type 037-II) class missile boats – 6 boats
    Houxin (Type 037-IG) class missile boats – 30 boats

    The Houbei alone carries 8 SSM each. A single or duo of harrassing submarines drawing off ASW assets combined with 1/3 of their patrol craft simply maneuvering within range would keep a carrier on the move and prevent them from bringing power to bare.

    This does not even take into account shore batteries or aircraft.

    Our ASW skillsets have steadily atrophied with no repair plan in place. Our performance as recent as 2006 (Kittyhawk) shows we do not keep submarines away from from our CVNs. With the reduction in airpower, the battle that wages between 06s within a CVBG, for assets between Strike, SUCAP, ASW and Air defense is laughably in disarray.

    I have been a submariner and SWO. For every great aircrew that actually might have been a threat, we have had to broach the boat so 2 others could even find us. I have grown ever pessimistic in the adminstrative nature we ignore the problem.. We are more concerned about Right Whales than have confirmation in our operators abilities.

    I have watched battlegroups struggle with the permissions during transatlantic crossings, on their way into theater, to get permission to go active because of the insane bureacracy that has taken over.

    And now ships ability to train is limited by fuel consumption. A pity the COs that are in command attempting to meet their TORIS/TFOM scores.

    If we had to engage in a combined arms confrontation at sea (surface, air and asw) what is our primary ASUW weapon? Oh the Harpoon you say? When was the last time anyone checked the status of this aging system and it’s plans for the future.

    The 1000 ship navy may be what we need; however you will hardly find a ally that can provide it as originally envisioned.

  • Derrick

    So what is the right mix of aircraft for the planned CVW of 2020 to meet the threats listed above? How many jets vs how many helicopters?


    Since the question is what is the 2020 CVW look like and will it meet the requirements, we have to answer three questions.

    What will the airwing look like in 2020 (means)?

    What is the airwing expected to do in 2020 (Mission although also by extension expected operating environment)?

    Can the means available meet the mission specified in the expected operating environment?

    So, to answer the first question, what will the airwing look like?
    Nominally, the airwing should be something like
    1 SQD F-35C
    2 SQD F-18E/F
    1 SQD F-18C/D
    1 SQD EF-18Gs
    1 SQD E-2Ds
    1 SQD MH-60R/S
    maybe 1 SQD UCAVs

    OK, so there is the airwing. Lets assume a CSG of 1 CVN, 1 CG, 3 DDGs, and a T-AKE/T-AO pair.

    In times of crisis, you would need to assume something like two CSGs, two SSGNs, maybe 5-6 SSNs, one squadron of P-3/P-8s with BAMS in support, and one ESG plus various other support ships (T-AKEs, T-AOs, MCMs, LCSs, etc) are immediately available.

    I will further assume that SM-6 is widely deployed, all AEGIS ships are ABM capable with SM-3 Block 1b, and the MH-60R/S is the defacto helo standard.

    So, is the basic force level about right? What kind of scenarios and missions are we looking at for this force?

  • Diogenes of NJ

    @USNVO –

    “What kind of scenarios and missions are we looking at for this force?”

    How about to go in harms way and defend the freedom of the seas?

    Or possibly to to defend U.S. interests abroad and to preserve the freedom and security of the global commons in a rapidly changing environment?

    Things were a lot simpler in Diogenes’ Navy.

    – Kyon

    P.S. Didn’t mean to read to you from the book – it just came out that way.

  • The letter to CNO asks whether the future CVW can operate in the A2/AD theatre. What the letter should have asked is what are the victory conditions in a Chinese war? Until you know the victory conditions, meaning the desired end result, you can’t know whether the CVW (or any other aspect of the Navy) is adequate.

    With respect to all the commenters, discussing the various ASW/ASuW/AAW/MCM and whatnot is a tactical discussion in a vacuum, to an extent, without a stated end result to measure the discussion against.

    For example, one possible victory condition (end result) doesn’t even require entering the first island chain A2/AD. I’m not a proponent of this particular “victory” but it is a legitimate option. The point is that the CVW and other forces necessary for a non-A2/AD campaign would differ radically from a requirement to fully enter and “sit” in the A2/AD.

    My overall point is that the Congressmen have asked the wrong question and the Navy is not providing the right answer. Of course, it may be that the military leadership has fully discussed and settled on victory conditions for various scenarios and simply isn’t making that information public. In fact, I very much hope that’s the case but I very much fear that’s it not.


    D of NJ,

    Sorry, those aren’t missions or scenarios, they are slogans. I want Operational Objectives and expected Operational Environments. The whole time, force, and space thing.

    OK, let me give you an example. Lets postulate that China decides to forceably reunify Taiwan in 2020. The US decides to support Taiwan but we are unable to utilize non-US bases in the area although China can not violate Japanes, Vietnamese, Korean, or anyone elses air space and the same applies to the US. So, it comes down to Guam and 7FLT (and Taiwan) once the ball goes up.

    So, in this scenario, 7FLT has a mission to, in conjuction with Taiwanese forces, first deter any attack, and if the Chinese attack, then:
    a. Conduct a NEO in Taiwan
    b. Provide Counter-Air over Taiwan
    c. prevent the Chinese fleet and air forces from invading or blockading Taiwan.
    d. provide BMD for Guam

    So, 7FLT needs to be able to sieze localized sea control in limited areas around and near Taiwan and practice sea denial in the areas around Taiwan. That’s it. Can the forces I cited do that? I don’t know, but outside of submarines, aircraft, and missiles, there is really no reason to go inside the first island chain. Chinese forces have to exit limited chokepoints into deep water to play and have to contend with Taiwanese forces as well. Is the notional CVW along with the other forces stated able to meet the requirements of this scenario (which is probably close to the very hardest scenario)?

  • Diogenes of NJ


    I agree that they are slogans, but that’s what today’s leadership is coming up with. The second “slogan” is a direct lift from a recent piece in American Interest authored by none other than General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF & Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, USN.


    That was back in February. I’m not as on top of this as say SJS, so I don’t know if the Air-Sea Battle is still even on the table.

    The most remarkable thing about all of the happy talk is that the order of battle is seldom listed. The numbers don’t lie. I know that you have gone to the trouble to state the case for our side. The prospect for the arithmetic however is dismal as our stuff wears out faster than we are replacing it. Anyone who thinks that the number of ships and aircraft we currently have planned a decade hence will be sufficient should China flex their muscles, needs to reread Sun Tzu.

    Three of the four mission scenarios you listed are perhaps doable today if there is a means to contain escalation. Otherwise the political will will not allow for an adequate response or will respond with too little, too late. I’d hate to see any of our forces sacrificed in a dust-up if the political leadership of Taiwan decides that they all could just get along after the balloon has gone up.

    One thing about the BMD mission. We run out of ammunition real quick, and they don’t. What we have today is a rogue state onesey-twosey capability. If we are serious about BMD against China, we are going to need some kind of game changer.

    If we intend to concede the seas inside of the first island chain to China and rely on the geography of chokepoints, we should also be considering mine warfare. It’s cheap and may be what we are reduced to after we are overwhelmed by their numbers.

    I know that guys like you aren’t going to give up. One day we may get the kind of leadership that you guys deserve and a political will that is up to the task of maintaining the greatness of our Nation.

    – Kyon


    D of NJ,

    You make some good points.

    Clearly BMD assets are limited, but then you only have to stop their IRBMs which are much less numerous and in the end, are probably substantially more expensive than the SM-3 Block Ib. And the mere fact that you have BMD massively complicates targeting and numer of missiles required.

    A simple look at a chart shows that mine warfare could be used with devestating effect against China, especially given there limited defensive MCM capability.

    The point of my scenario was to be a point of reference for what Representative Forbes was asking for. Is the CVW the right mix for 2020 missions? What are the trade-offs made in each area?

    For instance, do we have too many short range strike aircraft? That is a scenario dependent question.

    Do we need an ASW aircraft in the CVW? Again, that is scenario dependent.

    Do we need a really long range AAM? scenario dependent.

    Should we by more, less stealthy drones like the GA Predator C, or more stealthy (but costlier) drones like the NG X-47B? Scenario dependent.

    More bombs or more long range strike missiles? Scenario dependent.

    What most posters fail to realize that the US has negative goals vis-a-vis China. We want to stop China from invading Taiwan, etc, we don’t want to invade China. The Chinese are the ones who would have to gain sea control not the US, we just have to contest it enough to deter the Chinese. So the USN doesn’t have to enter the South China Sea or deal with the FACs, diesel subs in shallow water, etc. The Chinese navy and air force have to come out to play, not the other way around. Looking at the geography from the Chinese perspective the US has virtually every advantage; Good chokepoints, wide open spaces in bluewater to hide in, great positions on SLOCs, allies, etc. If the USN is poorly trained, what does that make the PLAN which operates at sea maybe 1/20th of the time the USN does?

    But the bottomline, in order to answer the question properly (and the real answer is obviously going to be classified), you have to explain what the mission set is, what the projected operating environment is, and what would you change in the CVW. I don’t have those answers but pointless gnashing of teeth and groaning about lack of S-3Bs, worrying about FACs that don’t have the range to even reach the operating area, or trying to fight the war by algebra is just plain silly.

  • StealthFlyer

    For carrier-based UAVs, we should consider having some join the deployed CVWs instead of having all of them permanently assigned to CVWs. Autonomous UCAVs like the X-47B do not require pilot proficiency and large numbers of strike, ASW, or refueling UCAVs may not be needed during transit across the Pacific or Atlantic. So, the CVW could include say 4 UCLASS strike/surveillance UCAVs in 2020 and pick up an additional 10 UCLASS UCAVs when it reaches the 5th or 7th Fleet. Thus, with 80 UCLASS planes each of up to 4 deployed carriers could have 14 on deck (instead of just 8 if all were distributed to each of the 10 CVWs). The 40 in CVWs based in the US could be also used for maintenance and deck handling training, etc, with 20 forward deployed in the Middle East and 20 in the Western Pacific to use on deployed carriers. This would save a lot of money compared to buying 140 UCAVs to have 14 permanently in each CVW.

  • Derrick

    Although the Chinese navy is restricted to the first island chain, are its ASBMs? I thought they can shoot those beyond the first island chain (thought I saw that in a previous post), so would the CVW have to be modified to be able to deal with that? What about protecting supply convoys to the Pacific? If conflict breaks out, as posted previously, BMD will use up a lot of ammunition so the US navy would require safe passage of supplies from the continental US to its Pacific forces. Would that require a special CVW for that task? Sorry if the questions are stupid, but I got lost with all the anacronyms and am curious to the cost to the US taxpayer…

  • Rich B

    “A simple look at a chart shows that mine warfare could be used with devestating effect against China, especially given there limited defensive MCM capability.” We can just take naval mining off the shelf, brush it off and use it.

    If we had adequate inventory… If we had adequate method of delivery… have you looked at the state of mine warfare within the US arsenal recently? How much we expend to maintain it? Pick up a copy of the Naval War College studies on ‘Assassin’s Mace’ and understand the Chinese commitment to minewarfare compared to ours and ask yourself who would using mining more effectively for sea control in the region.

    “China’s mine inventory is not only extensive but likely contains some of the world’s most lethal MIW systems. Indeed, China is on the cutting edge of mine warfare technology and concept development, and it already fields systems that advanced nations—the United States, for one—do not have in their arsenals.”

    We would have to deal with a huge mine threat while being faced with the same problems we have had since the 1996 GAO study which identified the problems within our MIW community;

    Critical areas in the Navy’s mine countermeasures capabilities remain unmet, and the Navy is pursuing a number of different projects to addressthese areas. However, it has not established clear priorities among all of its mine warfare programs to sustain the development and procurement of its most needed systems. Consequently, the Navy has experienced delays in delivering new systems to provide necessary capabilities. The systems and equipment installed on the Navy’s ocean-going mine
    countermeasures ships have experienced reliability problems and parts shortages for several years. As a result, individual ships are not fully capable of performing their mine countermeasures missions.

    With the size of their force and distances they would have to respond saying the Chinese would have to exert “sea control” is tantmount to challenging our ability to exert sea control over the Gulf of Mexico.

    Ruling out any axis of attack based upon “scenario” and what we know of their defense is going in ill prepared. Within the fleet we consistantly practice single warfare scenarios constantly and it is ill shaping the younger generation of officers when the threat the Chinese will offer is one that is truly multiaxis..

    Their own literature talks at lenght regarding our weaknesses.

    You will need AAW; ASUW and ASW simultaneously. The one you do not cover will strike you.

    We have to look at our current trend for disaggregate operations within theater where the CVBG rarely is together after entry to the theater as each vessel sets off on it’s own mission and are rarely within mutual support of each other if we are going to hope to have enough assets to provide effective coverage.

    Take a close look at Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) provided by the UK navy. The depth of the combat problem they offer is something we lack in some of our own exercises; especially when you begin to combine damage effects.

    Pick up a copy of the PLANs campaign theory literature that is open source and the concept of “first strike,” which permeates PLA doctrine.

    The CVBG has to be attuned to this if it is going to survive.. the only way to ensure this is 100% coverage in the vital area; those numbers are driven by basic search theory.

    I think you will find the current wing does not support those numbers.


    Rich B,

    I am well aware of the current state of the US MIW inventory, both offensive and defensive. Having said that, even using MK62-65 Quickstrike mines (admittedly about the only thing we have) and delivering them with tactical aircraft and B-1/2s, the USN could make lfe extremely difficult for the Chinese. Especially given the state of their MCM forces. Now look at the waters outside the first island chain, not so easy to mine.

    As to the Chinese mining capability, what scenario are you talking about where the USN CSG would be required to enter the mineable waters? Sure, the Chinese can keep the US out, but they have to operate there while the US doesn’t, outside of subs, aircraft, and missiles. Again, the US has a negative objective, the Chinese are the one’s that have to achieve Sea Control.

    Got it, your scenario is the Chinese launch a bolt from the blue attack against….. Because without some preparation, hopefully which would allow some repositioning of US forces, they would have no capability to do anything to exploit their attack. Or are they just starting a war because they feel like it?

    Again, without some scenario, you can’t decide what the requirements of the CVW is.

    For instance, if you say that the USN must be able to sail a CSG into the South China Sea in a peacetime setting facing a potential hot war against a dense mine threat, multiple regimental raids of backfires and tactical airstrikes, and dozens of submarines without any external support while preparing to launch repeated strikes against the Chinese mainland and also conducting joint exercises with the nations in the region, then that provides a baseline as to what a CVW should look like. In my opinion, completely unrealistic, but still a baseline.

    So, what is your scenario?

  • Byron

    The most effective mine is a MK 46 ADCP fired by an SSN 🙂

  • UltimaRatioReg

    No Byron, the most effective mine is one laid and left that causes the enemy to have to dedicate time and assets to clear without the slightest chance of losing a friendly vessel. Mines, even more than torpedoes, epitomize asymmetric warfare at sea.

    So, of course, what’s our MCM capability?

  • Byron

    “the most effective mine is one laid and left that causes the enemy to have to dedicate time and assets to clear without the slightest chance of losing a friendly vessel. Mines, even more than torpedoes, epitomize asymmetric warfare at sea”

    And having a ship sunk by torpedo won’t tie up escort forces? Aviation assets? Submarines can’t tell the difference between friendly and foe? Gosh, never knew that.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I have in my hand the cost of a submarine and crew. I have in my other hand ten thousand contact mines using 80 year old technology, and a couple of fishing schooners and a freighter to drop them from.

    I want to deny you access to the key port or beach of your choosing. Or a key maritime chokepoint.

    Tell me why again I would risk my submarine for such an endeavor?



    besides the submarine not being at threat of being sunk, the mine can be in really shallow water like 30-40ft where a ship can be but a submarine can’t and a mine can be laid in waters suspected of being mined by the other side which might be too dangerous for a submarine.

    On that note, the best mine is one that the enemy thinks is there and acts accordingly. Note that Haiphong was completely closed by 6 mines in WWII (sinking 4 ships, pretty good return on 2 B-24 sorties)and 12 mines in the Vietnam war. As long as the enemy thinks the mines are there and stays in port, you win.

    Again, my point is that in most scenarios, the US needs to practice sea denial, not sea control. So the CSG doesn’t need to sail into the mineable waters, look for diesel boats in shallow water (except with aircraft), etc. But the Chinese have to achieve sea control and have to sail in mineable waters in every instance. A negative mission is easier.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    We’d best be prepared to execute both missions. And to negate both missions. It is what a Navy with global responsibilities must do. And it’s hard, requiring a combination of platforms, weapons, and warships with integrated capabilities.

    Where we’re heading ain’t it.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    I have to agree with USNVO about laying mines. Submarines are capable of laying mines, but aircraft do it a lot faster, and as USNVO points out in places where submarines should not go.

    In WW II submarines were effective at mine laying deep into enemy waters at a time when our aircraft did not possess the range/payload capacity for that mission early in the war. It was relatively safe in WW II to operate on the surface at night and that could be used to advantage to mine the shallows.

    Today, a submarine would only be safe running on the surface coming in/out of port (unless you were trying to make a political point as the Chinese did in the Osumi Strait in 2003).

    Cdr. Peter A. Dutton, JAGC, USN (Ret.) has a good deal of information relating to that up on his page:


    There’s also a Peter Dutton piece published by the Naval War College that is particularly relevant:


    His excellent figures lay out the geography of the region in a way that is well suited to what is being discussed in this thread. One of our esteemed blog authors may be tempted to use this paper as a basis to carry on in a new thread.

    Lastly – Byron’s mention of Mk 46 and ADCAP together has this bublehead a bit confused. Mk 46 is a lightweight torpedo and is also a component of the Mk 60 CAPTOR mine. ADCAP generally refers to the Mk 48 (heavyweight) torpedo which also does an outstanding job of eliminating unwanted surface traffic. On US Submarines weapons are “shot”; the word fire is only used to refer to something that is burning (they always get that wrong in the movies).

    Other navies used different terminology. Aboard U-boats the term was: “Torpedo los!” – here’s a catchy little tune to attest to that:


    I really couldn’t help myself – haven’t heard from Sperrwaffe in a while – maybe this will smoke him out.

    – Kyon

    – Kyon