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- COUNTER TERRORISM -
Submarines can become involved in counter
terrorism operations. They can be used to
conduct ISR in close proximity to terrorist
group training areas and command areas to
develop an understanding of their capability
and intent. They can be used to insert
Special Forces or to deliver a surgical land
strike package. They can also be used to
conduct covert tracking of seaborne terrorist
- PROTECTION OF NATIONAL
RESOURCES & INFRASTRUCTURE -
Submarines can also be used to protect
national resources and infrastructure. They
can covertly monitor and, if necessary, act
upon any illegal behaviour.
For example, they can be used to conduct
fisheries patrols. They can operate close
to, but without the knowledge of, illegal
fisherman recording evidence of the illegal
activity for use later in prosecution/legal
proceedings. Whilst some might think
that such a task is a waste of a high cost
military asset, operations conducted by
HMCS OJIBWA and OKANAGAN off the east
coast of Canada in 1993/4 against illegal US
fishermen resulted in a drop in the number
of US violations of the Hague Line from
33 in 1993 to six in 1994 and one in 1995.
The fishermen did not have the capacity to
determine whether or not a submarine was
Submarines can also be used to conduct
surveillance in waters around national oil
rig infrastructure or to detect and monitor
perpetrators of environmental breaches
such as illegal dumping.
COUNTER NARCOTICS -
Submarines can be very useful in policing
operations including illegal trafficking of
goods and people, anti-piracy, anti-weapon
smuggling and anti-drug running operations.
A submarine can operate invisibly against
criminals without directly influencing the
scenario, collecting acoustic, visual and
electromagnetic evidence for presentation
During the 1970’s, Royal Navy submarines
were deployed in the Irish Sea to catch
vessels smuggling guns to Ireland for use by
the Irish Republican Army.
In a 1992 Royal Canadian Mounted Police
anti-drug operation, a Canadian submarine
conducted close surveillance of a target vessel
for two months, with the operation resulting
in the biggest drug bust in Canadian history
to that date. HMCS CORNER BROOK was also
publicly recognised for participating in a 42
day anti-drug smuggling patrol in April/May
2008. In addition, Columbian submarines
have also been used to track drug running
operations in the Caribbean and it is worth
noting that smugglers themselves have
started using submersibles.
Special Forces and other law enforcement
agents can be embarked and landed for
counter drug operations or for boarding
operations, although for boarding parties it
may be better for the submarine to cue other
Between September and November 2010
a Dutch submarine was used to provide
surveillance and reconnaissance support for
NATO anti-piracy operations off the coast of
Despite being optimised for war, submarines nevertheless have valuable roles to play in peacetime.
In addition to important conflict prevention and preparation for conflict tasks, more and more submarines are being seen participating
in diplomacy and peacetime law enforcement missions.
Pressures on Defence funding, coupled with the need for ongoing financial support for an expensive underwater asset has resulted in
submarine commanders imaginatively looking for ways of exploiting a submarine’s operational and tactical characteristics for operations
short of war.
Submarines have real ways in which they can contribute to national defence outside of conflict. A submarine’s peacetime roles must also
be thrown into the mix of considerations associated with Australia’s future submarine selection. APDR
Submarines can become involved in counter terrorism operations.
Sailors scan the horizon through
periscopes aboard the attack
submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763).
Credit: USN / Ronald Gutridge
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