Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR February 2011 Contents Asia Pacific Defence Reporter | 59
PREPARATION FOR WAR TRAINING
A major peacetime role for submarines is the
training of submarine and ASW personnel.
Ownership of a capable submarine platform
and associated weapons by themselves is not
enough to ensure a high level of tactical success.
In order for the submarine to be ready to carry
out assigned tasks, it is necessary to train the
personnel who operate and command them in
such a way that they can calmly and competently
carry out what is demanded of them. Submarines
are also critical for providing realistic training to
their own ASW practitioners.
- TECHNOLOGICAL EVOLUTION
AND ADVANCEMENT -
Another peacetime activity for naval planners and
submarine force commanders is the development
or procurement of new submarine technologies
and equipment. Introducing newer technology
than that possessed by an adversary gives a
submarine force a great advantage.
Examples of technology changes which
historically had great effect on submarine warfare
include the introduction of the diesel engine,
improved batteries, the snorkel, the reactor,
hydrodynamic hull forms and shapes, acoustic
quietening, narrowband sonar processing and
Air Independent Propulsion. There are other
less transformational technology examples that
contribute in a smaller but still valuable way.
A submarine that remains technologically
static throughout its life is one that slowly loses
its capability edge.
- TACTICAL DEVELOPMENT -
Coupled with the introduction of new
technologies and equipment is the need to
develop and update submarine and ASW tactics.
Tactical and technological developments are so
intertwined as to be inseparable.
Tactics need to change as technology changes.
Tactics must also remain within the context of
total force resources and capabilities, which
demands a high level of individuality. The man
with the quickest aim and the farthest vision
will teach the wrong tactics to a man less well
Tactics are developed by uniformed and civilian
specialist and then tested at sea using submarine
and ASW assets. This development activity
ensures submarine and ASW commanders have
a range of tested tactical options available for any
given scenario and that a variety of tactics exists
to support a prolonged campaign.
Submarines can be used to conduct peacetime
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
A submarine can covertly enter an area and
remain there undetected for significant time
periods to observe and record enemy activities.
At the very technical data gathering levels,
they can collect Acoustic Intelligence, Signal
Intelligence - consisting of both Electronic
Intelligence and Communications Intelligence
and, finally, Visual Intelligence. Submarines
can position themselves to capture line of sight
transmissions or observe undersea or over
water tests that other assets are unable to see.
Submarines fitted with multi-beam sonars and
environmental instrumentation can also covertly
collect bathymetric and sea floor classification
data. Similar data collection, with the additional
of ice thickness measurements, can be carried
out underneath the polar ice cap – a useful thing
to know if you plan to fire missiles through it, or
come to the surface.
At a less technical level, submarines can conduct
systematic and continuous observation of a
targeted area or group to monitor operations, fleet
movements and patterns or to establish tactics,
strengths and weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a
Whilst a surface ship can carry out surveillance
activities, it is not an especially covert method and
the very presence of it – once noticed - may cause
those being observed to alter their behaviour to
prevent accurate intelligence being obtained. The
submarine takes advantage of lapses in an enemy’s
operational security and so is less vulnerable to
an adversary’s operational deception. Aircraft,
manned and unmanned, can also carry out
surveillance but these platforms usually require
back-to-back sorties to ensure sustained
surveillance of a specific area and furthermore
they can be limited by weather, cloud cover and
the location of targets. Satellite observations are
intermittent and predictable and are limited by
cloud cover and orbital geometries – for example,
the Indian atomic weapon programme came as a
complete surprise to other nations due to an over-
reliance on satellite monitoring.
Having said that, signals intercepted from
submarines can complement space or air based
signals intercepts. Information gathered by the
submarine can also provide “tip off ” information
to allow optimal allocation other intelligence
collection assets. Conversely, the product
of submarine ISR operations can be greatly
improved if information is passed to it from other
strategic and operational surveillance assets.
Submarines are the optimum asset for detecting
and observing underwater activity to establish an
adversary’s true submarine capability. It might
not be unusual to see submarines operating in
close vicinity to another country’s submarine
bases and operational areas, particularly noting
the recent proliferation of modern submarines.
Sensitivities associated with ISR operations are
high, particularly in relation to those operations
that occur during peacetime. The “where, when
and whys” associated with these missions attract
some of the highest security classifications
associated with peacetime military operations.
Needless to say, they generally take place in the
training and operating areas of likely adversaries.
It must also be pointed out that the volume
of meaningful intelligence that can be collected
can increase significantly the closer a submarine
moves to shore. It may in fact be necessary to enter
foreign waters so that line of sight information
can be gathered. Certainly, some country’s
submarine forces are given approval to operate
inside foreign territorial waters during peacetime.
Soviet submarines have been publicly reported in
Danish (Greenland), Finnish, Italian, Norwegian
and Swedish territorial waters. A Soviet Whiskey
class submarine even ran aground near Sweden’s
Karlskrona naval base on the 28th October 1981
and remained there for some weeks.
United States Navy submarines reportedly
conducted operations inside Soviet territorial
waters during the Korean War and other times
during the Cold War, as did German submarines
off the coast of Latvia and Lithuania. It is even
possible that the Royal Australian Navy has
been involved in such activities in the Asian
region. In the Middle East, a foreign submarine
believed to belong to a friendly nation also
illegally penetrated Israeli waters in November
2004. North Korean submarines have been known
to operate inside South Korean waters and in
November 2004 a Chinese intruder submarine
was caught operating inside Japanese waters.
In mid-September 2008, the Japanese destroyer,
ATAGO, visually detected the periscope of an
intruder submarine, which it then tracked on
active sonar for over 90 minutes.
Counter detection of a submarine inside
another country’s waters, particularly in times of
tension or if the detection occurred in a sensitive
area, would probably have significant strategic
implications and, accordingly, this sort of action
would require the approval of the highest national
authorities after appropriate risk versus gain
assessments have been made.
More than 50% of the mission tasking of US
Navy nuclear attack submarines is in the ISR
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