Some ASW counsel that never gets old:

by Craig Hooper on April 5, 2011

While doing some research on anti-mine and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) issues, I came upon this wonderful gem from a September 1964 ASW paper in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. I strongly suspect that, at least for ASW, similar sentiment still holds true today:

“The problems in the field are tremendous, and getting worse, not only because of the increasing capabilities of submarines, but also because of the increasing complexity and capability of the weapons devised to combat them. These combine to make ASW a masochist’s paradise, bringing to mind the old story about the

man who loved to hit himself on the head with a hammer because it felt so good when he stopped…

…Perhaps the simile does not apply, though, because in ASW you never get the chance to stop hitting yourself on the head.”

I almost wish Proceedings would, on occasion, republish old papers that, you know, are–through dint of naval habit, tradition or just sheer cussedness–ageless.

We cannot keep ignoring the renaissance that is going on underneath the waves. It’s enough to make one wonder just why the Navy is so darn set upon restarting the old multi-purpose DDG-51 seaframe.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

B.Smitty April 11, 2011 at 6:56 am


Very true. However a “flaming datum” still counts as a detection. We can pounce on that with helicopters. It’s just much better when nobody dies.


Craig Hooper April 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I see a lot of people getting really psyched up about having active, unmanned nodes, out there looking for “stuff”.

But what happens when somebody decides that they’d rather not suffer the scrutiny? When is an attack on a drone just a disposal of some hazard at sea versus, you know, an attack?


Jon Harris April 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Great post Blacktail. Thanks for the links.


B.Smitty April 8, 2011 at 8:31 am


I don’t see the point of a DE corvette. The problem isn’t the ship’s signature, it’s the sensors we use to go after diesel subs. Quietly listening with passive sonars just may not be effective anymore. And if your ships are active pingers, the benefits of a quiet propulsion plant kinda go out the window.

It seems to me we need to maximize our ability to deploy active sonar nodes. These nodes are essentially sacrificial, or too small/numerous to be not worth shooting with a torpedo.

The problem becomes, how do you afford to buy, move, support, and operate a bunch of these pinging nodes? Are they small enough to be carried by a mothership? If so, the mothership costs have to be factored in. Are they big enough to self-deploy with a task force? Do you risk sailors aboard them?

Lots of questions and not many answers, IMHO.


leesea April 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

not to forget the remote minehunting boats in sevice now with some navies and whihc are vast improvement ovet those the USN had in ‘Nam.


Blacktail April 7, 2011 at 3:05 am

This story brings to mind three things very much worth noting.
The first is the advent of AIP (Air-Independent Propulsion), now being seen in some modern Diesel Subs. It’s not a matter of IF threat countries field boats with this technology, but WHEN;

Second, that the US Navy is — for all intents and purposes — already completely helpless against NORMAL Diesel Subs;

Finally, Carlton Meyer on G2Mil has thought of a possible equalizer against Diesel Subs;


B.Smitty April 6, 2011 at 8:17 am

I have been wondering about the possibility of using relatively inexpensive, numerous, optionally-manned vessels as semi-sacrificial, active sonar nodes.

OPVs and IPVs are relatively inexpensive and have small crews to begin with. Maybe we could build one that could operate a CAPTAS Nano LFAS autonomously for periods of time.

During transits, it would be manned, but when it had to operate in an ASW role, we could run it unmanned via LOS or SATCOM datalinks. If maintenance was required, we would fly crews over.

In peacetime, it could just be a manned patrol asset.

Smaller vessels could be used, but an OPV in the ~2,000 ton range is self-deployable. It doesn’t require a mother ship to carry it and support it. It can also operate a real LF active towed array. The RHIBs we’re using now can just use dipping sonars and passive towed arrays. They also don’t provide much standoff for the parent vessel and don’t have very high endurance.


Craig Hooper April 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Try finding a little ‘ole UUV loitering about in a sea full of containers. Or Tsunami debris.

Just hope we consider increasing the size of our embarked ASW munition lockers…


B.Smitty April 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

There’s also this,

“Can Diesel-Electric Boats Evade Virginia-class Subs?” (DTI)

Passive sonars in general may just be ineffective against newer diesel subs. Sobering.


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