Commissioning of USS Minnesota

'Remarkable Submarine,' Says U.S. Rep. McCollum

“In the coming decades, the thousands of brave men and women who will serve on the U.S.S. Minnesota will have an unbreakable bond to the great state that I represent," said Congresswoman Betty McCollum.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who represents Oakdale in the U.S. House, was among a delegation of nearly 70 Minnesotans that traveled to Norfolk, Va., over the weekend to take part in the commissioning of the USS Minnesota, the Navy’s newest and most advanced warship in active duty.

Construction of the Minnesota began in February 2008. The ship was dubbed the “Minnesota” on July 15, 2008. The selection of the moniker Minnesota, designated SSN 783, honors the state's citizens and their continued support to our nation's military.

“In the coming decades, the thousands of brave men and women who will serve on the U.S.S. Minnesota will have an unbreakable bond to the great state that I represent. On behalf of Minnesota, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude and prayers to the officers and crew who will sail this remarkable submarine,” McCollum wrote in her newsletter.

At 377 feet and 7,800 tons, the USS Minnesota has a crew of 134 officers and enlisted personnel. The $2 billion submarine can dive to 800 feet and when submerged reach speeds of more than 25 knots (29 mph).

Those who made the privately funded trip included 24 state lawmakers, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, guests, citizens and members of the Twin Cities chapter of the U.S. Navy League.

Upon completion, the USS Minnesota will be the 10th of a projected 30 Virginia-class submarines and the third Navy ship named for the state of Minnesota.

For more information, visit USS Minnesota Commissioning Tour

$71M Spent on USS Miami Before Repair Scuttled

The Navy spent about $71 million on cleanup, planning and initial repairs on the fire-damaged USS Miami before scuttling plans to restore the nuclear-powered submarine.

The Navy intended to repair the attack submarine, damaged last year, at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and return it to duty before the discovery of additional cracks in pipes drove the estimated repair costs up from $450 million to $700 million. The Navy announced last month it was scrapping plans to repair the Miami because of the higher estimates coupled with mandated budget cuts.

The $71 million expense consisted mostly of damage assessment, planning, repair materials and some initial repair efforts, along with $7 million for cleanup. The figure was provided at the request of The Associated Press.

Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, said the waste of taxpayer dollars underscores the challenges facing the Navy as it shifts priorities to meet reduced funding.

"The figure illustrates the kind of waste that results when unpredictable budget pressures force the military services to change their plans," Thompson said Friday.

The Miami was severely damaged by a fire set by a shipyard worker in May 2012 while it was in dry dock during a 20-month overhaul at the Kittery, Maine, shipyard.

The submarine remains in the same dry dock, but it won't be restored. Instead, shipyard workers will remove fuel from the nuclear reactor and make enough repairs so that the submarine can be towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington State, where it'll eventually be cut up for scrap. Inactivation costs are estimated to be $54 million, the Navy said.

The Navy had intended to repair the Miami with a goal of returning it to service in 2015. The Navy said it would be cost-effective because the 23-year-old submarine could serve another 10 years. But with the higher cost estimate, the Navy decided it made more sense to shift limited dollars elsewhere.

The Naval Sea Systems Command said the expenditure on cleanup, repairs and assessment wasn't a total loss because part of the spending supported both the repair and inactivation. Materials procured for repair is being assessed for use in maintenance and repair of other active-duty submarines.

Paul O'Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council, blamed Congress and the federal sequestration cuts for the decision to scuttle repairs. The Navy wanted to repair the sub, he said, but just couldn't afford it.

"The waste is Congress not being clear in the budget. We haven't had a working budget for years. Every year is a continuing resolution from the previous year. It's no way to run a business. It's no way to defend our nation," O'Connor said Friday.

Russia Fights Fire on Atomic-Powered Submarine

A fire burned for five hours on an atomic-powered submarine undergoing repairs near Russia's eastern port of Vladivostok on Monday, but naval and shipyard officials said there was no risk of a radiation leak and nobody was hurt.

Black smoke poured from the submarine Tomsk, which is powered by two nuclear reactors, after it caught fire at the Zvezda shipyard in Bolshoi Kamen, about 25 km (15 miles) across a bay from Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan, authorities said.

The fire was the second on board a Russian nuclear-powered submarine in lass than two years. "There is no threat of radioactive contamination," the state-run Itar-Tass news agency cited an unidentified official in Russia's Pacific Fleet command as saying. Regional emergency officials said radiation levels in the area were within the normal range.

After the fire was extinguished, firefighters continued to douse the area to ensure it did not flare up again, the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation, which operates the shipyard, said in a statement.

It said there were no casualties and both reactors had been shut off and were in "safe condition". The firm also said there had been no weapons aboard the ship, which normally carries up to 24 guided missiles, when the fire broke out.

When a blaze engulfed the atomic-powered Yekaterinburg at a shipyard in northwestern Russia in December 2011, official statements said there had been no nuclear missiles on board the sub, but a respected magazine later cited several unnamed sources as saying this was untrue.

Navy sources said on Monday that, in addition to two firefighting vessels, a ship that monitors radiation levels had been sent to the area, Russian news agencies reported.

The fire started in a ballast area of the submarine during welding works after an acetylene torch was used to cut through a grate, setting a rubber seal, cables and paint on fire, RIA cited an unnamed official at the shipyard as saying.

The official said the cistern was outside the sealed core of the submarine where the reactors are located, according to RIA. Russia's navy has suffered several fatal accidents since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The nuclear-powered submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea in 2000, killing all 118 crewmen aboard, and 20 people died aboard the submarine Nerpa in 2008 when its fire extinguishing system went off, flooding compartments with deadly gas.

Former US Senator to Pin Chief Selectees from Sub Named in his Honor

Chief petty officer selectees from Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John Warner (SSN 785) will receive one of their anchors Sept. 13 from a veteran and former U.S. senator renowned for his lifetime of service to the Navy and nation.

The attack submarine's namesake, former Sen. John Warner, will join 150 Sailors and family members and participate in a midday pinning ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Navy's 12th Virginia-class submarine and is currently under construction in Newport News, Va. "I think it's extremely important for the persons who are privileged to be associated with a naval vessel to do what you can to enhance the life and understanding of the crew," said Warner.

Warner will speak at the ceremony and pin an anchor on each of the unit's three selectees. He will also be joined by his wife Jeanne, the submarine's sponsor. "We are honored for the opportunity to have Senator and Mrs. Warner participate in the inaugural chief petty officer pinning for PCU John Warner," said Cmdr. Dan Caldwell, the unit's commanding officer. "It is a very unique opportunity for our chief selects to be pinned by someone who has dedicated the majority of his life serving our Navy and our nation."

"I think that this ceremony will be a very emotional time for me," said Chief (select) Electrician's Mate(SS) Alexander Fritsch. "Years of hard work and dedication to the Navy have brought me to this point."

The Kalamazoo, Mich., native joined the Navy 11 years ago and reported to PCU John Warner last fall. Fritsch will play a key role in helping lead the submarine's Electrical Division during the construction process.

Caldwell said holding the ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial symbolizes the Navy history and heritage shared between the selectees and Warner.

Warner, 86, enlisted in the Navy in 1945 during the last year of World War II, shortly before his 18th birthday. He served briefly as a 3rd class petty officer before leaving the Navy to attend college.

"[Chief petty officers] were a fearsome group," Warner recalled during a phone interview. "But through the years I've found that there resides in chief petty officers a knowledge that is second to none. They've all come up the ladder, they've all chipped a little paint, and boy you want them around when the going gets tough."

Warner served as undersecretary and then secretary of the Navy during President Richard Nixon's administration. He was also a leader on national defense issues, chairing the Senate Committee on Armed Services for more than seven years.

He left the Senate in 2009 after representing the commonwealth of Virginia for 30 years. Fritsch will be pinned by Warner along with Chief (select) Machinist's Mate (SS/SW) Thomas Broadbent and Chief (select) Fire Control Technician (SS) Thomas Tatum.

Tatum, from Durham, N.C., said he worked hard to earn his selection, but not without the support of his shipmates and family. His wife, three children, mother and brother are scheduled to attend the ceremony.

"The pinning will be the culmination of everything that I set out to do in my career. I lack the words to describe that feeling," said Tatum.

Broadbent, from Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., expects four of his family members to attend including his dad. He said having his dad and Warner pin his anchors is an honor he will never forget.

Warner will also take all the selectees and crew members to Capitol Hill, where some of the Sailors may reenlist. He said that in doing so he hopes the Sailors appreciate their generation's responsibility to the nation.

"I hope they take away that America is the oldest continuously functioning constitutional republic in the world today," said Warner. "We're here as a consequence of the sacrifices of brave men and women who through the years have worn the various uniforms of our country, and now it's their generation that must allow America to continue."

The Writer Who Built the World’s First Engine-Powered Submarine - Narcis Monturiol Loved The Ocean’s Corals So Much, That He Built A Machine So He Could Better Enjoy Them

A man cannot one day just decide to build a submarine, much less the first poweredsubmarine, much less if that man is a writer. Yet that is just what Narcis Monturiol did.

As a young firebrand of the mid-19th century, Monturiol flirted with inflammatory subjects including feminism and Communism, placing him under the watchful eye of an oppressive regime. When he fled to Cadaqués, an isolated town on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, he found a peaceful fishing village where he could expand on his ideas of a Utopian world. It turned out that Cadaqués would also be the inspiration for his biggest idea.

In Cadaqués, the few locals mostly fished from the shore or from boats. Others dove for coral and returned with a magical diversity of things—fish, crabs, snails and, of course, great and wondrous corals, sold as decoration for local homes. Monturiol became transfixed by these treasures, seeing them as baubles befitting a Utopia. He admired the coral divers for their quest—a quest for discovery in an the unknown realm beneath the waters that he called “the new continent”—but was troubled by an accident in 1857 that left one diver dead by drowning.

He was so affected by the sight that he wanted to do something to make the life of coral divers easier. As Robert Roberts, one of Monturiol’s later collaborators put it, “The harvesting of valuable coral and the relatively scarce fruits born to those that dedicate their livelihood to this miserable industry…incited Narcís Monturiol.”

Munturiol had always been a dreamer. He was born in 1819 in Figueres, a town in Catalonia, the region that would later give birth to eminent artists including Salvador Dali, Antony Gaudi, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.

Monturiol’s father was a cooper, designing and building barrels for the wine industry. Monturiol could have continued in his father’s footsteps but instead chose to become a writer and socialist revolutionary. At an early age, Monturiol began to write about feminism, pacifism, Communism and a new future for Catalonia, all of which are the sort of things that make dictatorships, such as that of then Spanish statesman Ramón María Narváez, uncomfortable. Persecuted for his beliefs, Monturiol fled to France for a while before returning to Spain. When his writings got in trouble again, this time in France, he came to Cadaqués, the coastal town just a few miles from Figueres.

In 1857, with visions of the new continent in his mind, his Utopia that he and his friends would create through writing and art, Monturiol went home to Figueres to begin his project. This all sounds ridiculous and quixotic, because it is.

Just how Monturiol came up with his specific plans is unclear. Perhaps thanks to his father’s influence, though Monturiol also hired a master builder of ships and a designer to help, the submarine came to look a bit like a giant wine barrel, tapered at both ends. It was at once simple and sophisticated.

Submarine technology wasn’t new to Monturiol or his contemporaries: historical mentions of “diving boats” can be traced to the time of Alexander the Great. The first real submarine – a boat capable of navigating underwater – was built by Cornelius Drebbel, a Dutch inventor who served in the court of England’s King James I during the Renaissance. Drebbel’s crafts were manually powered, requiring 12 oarsmen to row the underwater vessel whose submersion was controlled by the inflating – or deflating – of rope-tied pig’s bladders placed under each oarsmen’s seat. Into the 18th and 19th centuries, the Russians perfected Drebbel’s vision, creating the first prototype for a weaponized submarine under the patronage of Czar Peter I in June of 1720. Submarine technology continued to pique the interest of innovators – especially in Russia and Germany – but economic and scientific constraints hindered the expansion of submarine technology into the 19th century.

By the summer of 1859, just two years after the drowning, his dream was built. The submarine was 23 feet long and equipped with appendages for gathering coral and whatever else could be found in the great and unknown abyss. Monturiol was eager to test the submarine and took it for a trial with a crew of two other men, including the boat builder, in Barcelona’s harbor—even he was not bold enough to attempt a maiden voyage in in Cadaqués’ stormy bay. The submarine, named Ictíneo, a word Monturiol created out of the Greek words for fish and boat, was double-hulled, with each hull made of olive wood staves sheathed in copper. It moved thanks to Monturiol’s own foot power via two pedals, or at least that is how he hoped it would move.

Monturiol untied the mooring rope as a small crowd looked on, climbed in, waved and closed the hatch. The submarine began to move under human power and as it did, it disappeared into the water. It worked! Monturiol eventually completed more than 50 dives and established that the submarine was capable of diving to 60 feet and staying submerged for several hours. The submarine was able to dive deeper and for more hours than any submarine that had ever been built.

To Monturiol, the experience was at once tremendous and terrifying. As he would later write: “The silence that accompanies the dive…; the gradual absence of sunlight; the great mass of water, which sight pierces with difficulty; the pallor that light gives to the faces; the lessening movement in the Ictíneo; the fish that pass before the portholes—all this contributes to the excitement of the imaginative faculties."

For a while, Monturiol enjoyed the excitement and tried to drum up interest among investors for the production of more-advanced submarines.Catalonians pledged money at concerts, theatre performances, and other gatherings were held, town to town, to garner funds and support for his endeavors. Then, one day in 1862, a freighter drilled straight into the sub, which was docked in Barcelona’s Harbor, and crushed it. No one was harmed, and yet the dream splintered.

Monturiol was distraught. The Ictineo had taken years of his life. Now he had no choice. He would have to build the Ictineo II, an even larger submarine.

In 1867, the Ictineo II launched successfully. Monturiol descended to 98 feet and yet, to him, the endeavor still seemed clumsy. It was hard to power a submarine with nothing but one’s legs. Monturiol opted to develop a steam engine to be used inside the submarine. The steam engine, like the submarine, was not a new invention. It had been around for almost two centuries: Thomas Newcomen first patented the idea in 1705, and James Watt made innumerable improvements in 1769. In a standard steam engine, hot air is forced into a chamber with a piston, whose movement produces the power to motor practically anything, such as a submarine. For Monturiol, however, he couldn’t simply apply the technology of a standard steam engine because it would use up all of the valuable oxygen in the sub. The standard steam engine relies on combustion, using oxygen and another fuel substance (usually coal or fire) to produce the heat needed to create steam. This wouldn’t work. Instead, he used a steam engine run by a chemical reaction between potassium chlorate, zinc, and manganese dioxide that produced both heat and oxygen. It worked, making the Ictineo II the first submarine to use a combustion engine of any kind. No one would replicate his feat for more than 70 years.

Others tried to copy the concept of an engine-propelled submarine, but many failed to replicate the anaerobic engine Monturiol had created. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the German Navy created a submarine that ran on hydrogen peroxide, known as the Walter Turbine. In the modern era, the most common anaerobic form of submarine propulsion comes from nuclear power, which allows submarines to use nuclear reactions to generate heat. Since this process can occur without any oxygen, nuclear submarines can travel submerged for extended periods of time – for several months, if need be.

When Monturiol began constructing his submarine, the United States was entangled in the Civil War. Both sides in the conflict used submarine technology, though their vessels were rudimentary and often sank during missions.

When Monturiol read about the Civil War – and attempts to use submarine technology in the conflict – he wrote to Gideon Welles, the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, to offer his expertise and designs to the North. Unfortunately, by the time Welles responded to Monturiol’s solicitation, the Civil War had ended.

The submarine was an incredible innovation, but the timing was wrong. He could not sell the submarine and for whatever reason he did not choose to explore on his own. He desperately needed and wanted more funding to feed himself and, of course, produce more submarines and, at this point, would do nearly anything for it. He even installed a cannon on the submarine to interest the military—either that of Spain or, as he later tried, the United States (so much for pacifism)—all to no avail. In 1868, he sold his dream submarine for scrap. Its windows went into Spanish bathrooms and its engine—the first submarine engine in the world—became part of a device used to grind wheat. The grand machinery of his imagination would be used to make food, each bite bearing, one supposes, some taste of Monturiol’s dreams.

Monturiol died broke, and his submarines do not seem to have directly inspired any others. Yet, in Catalonia he has come to have a kind of understated fame. He was Dali before Dali, Catalonia’s first visionary artist, who worked with the tools of engineering rather than painting. The most concrete testimonies are a replica of his submarine in Barcelona harbor and a sculpture of him in the square in Figueres. In the sculpture, Monturiol is surrounded by muses. Even though the muses are naked, the statue seems to go largely unnoticed, overshadowed in the town by the more prominent legacy of Dali. But maybe the real testimony to Monturiol is that his spirit seems to have continued just beneath the surface in Catalonia. People know his story and every so often, his spirit seems to rise up like a periscope through which the visionaries—be they Dali, Picasso, Gaudi, Miro or anyone else—can see the world as he saw it, composed of nothing but dreams.

Ohio Replacement Subs to Shift to Electric Drive

The U.S. Navy’s successors to Ohio-class submarines will feature an electric propulsion system, making them quieter and stealthier than today’s versions.

The technology for the ballistic-missile subs is being developed by the Navy and General Dynamics Corp. as part of the Ohio Replacement Program, Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge told in an interview. Construction of the boats is set to begin in 2021, he said.

Unlike existing versions, which use mechanical propulsion technology, the replacement subs are designed to have an electric-drive system, Navy officials said. The technology still relies on a nuclear reactor to generate heat and create steam to power turbines, they said. However, the electricity produced is transferred to an electric motor rather than so-called reduction gears to spin the boat’s propellers, they said.

“We just take the electricity from those high-speed turbines and use that electricity to drive an electric motor that propels the ship,” Breckenridge said. “It is quieter than a mechanical drive system.”

Evolving global threats require ever more quiet submarines, Navy officials said. The Navy decided to invest in the technology after reaching the limits of trying to silence mechanical propulsion, they said.

“Great minds have figured out how to get those gears whisper quiet,” one Navy expert said. “We did not have any more tools in the bag to get the stealth that we knew we needed for this national strategic imperative.”

The Navy has experimented with electric drive in the past, but it took 15 years for the service to perfect the technology, officials said.

The system offers a number of potential advantages, including noise reduction, according to Bryan McGrath, managing director at FerryBridge Group LLC, a defense consulting firm based in Easton, Md.

“When you have the motor tied directly to the propulsion shaft, that should eliminate some of the noise,” he said.

Electric propulsion can also help ships generate more on-board power for electronics, sensors and weapons systems, McGrath said.

“Electric drive makes a lot of sense for submarines,” he said. “There is some technical risk in moving from mechanical to electric drive, but electric drive has been around for decades. The DDG 1000 (Zumwalt-class destroyer) surface ship is also electric drive – so you have two very big important ships are moving to electric drive.”

Other innovations in the submarine program include an X-shaped stern to improve maneuverability and stealth, officials said. As subs evolved from using propellers to more quieter propulsors, they lost some surface maneuverability, they said.

“With the X-stern, the Ohio Replacement will regain some of that maneuverability and, as a side effect, will have improved flow characteristics in the stern area while submerged,” the Navy expert said. “This will improve quieting and it simplifies the hydraulic control layout in the engine room.”

Similar to the current Ohio-class submarines, the replacements will be equipped to fire the Trident II nuclear missile, Breckenridge said. The missile, designated D5, has proven reliable in testing, with all but one of its 149 test shots successful, he said.

“Last week we did another round of successful firings of that missile,” he said. “The performance of that strategic missile is just incredible. As we look to deter bad behavior from other countries, we’ve got this kind of reliability.”

The new subs will eventually be fielded with the successor to the D5, Breckenridge said. The program office is also working with officials in the United Kingdom to engineer a common missile compartment. General Dynamics’ Electric Boat unit in Groton, Conn., is building prototypes under a $770 million contract.

The Ohio Replacement Program aims to control costs in part by borrowing technology already in production on the Virginia-class attack submarine program, officials said. Examples of the technology include conformal plane array sonar, fiber-optic links between sail-mounted cameras and a control room and “fly-by-wire” digital controls that allow crews to use a joystick and touch-panel to control the boat, they said.

Sonar technology is of particular importance to a submarine platform whose mission depends upon quietness and detectability, Breckenridge said.

“The SSBN has to have a capable sonar system with hull arrays,” he said. “We also stream along a towed array by putting out a string of transducers that give you that much more listening power. SSBN wants to detect an undersea adversary – if we can hear them further than they can hear us we have a tactical advantage in the undersea domain.”

In addition, the new submarines are being engineered with a new nuclear-reactor core designed to power the ships for 42 years. Unlike the current Ohio-class SSBNs, which require a multi-year refueling process halfway through their service life, the new Ohio Replacement boats will be able to continue their missions without needing a refueling pause, Breckenridge said.

The technology also allows the Navy to conduct the same mission with fewer submarines, service officials and analysts said.

Eyeing Gulf Shipping, Iran Is Mass Producing Submarines

An Iranian admiral says Tehran is mass producing light submarines, possibly for the Strait of Hormuz. Iran is steadily increasing its ability to indigenously produce different kinds of submarines, some of which would likely play an important role in any Iranian effort to close down the Strait of Hormuz.

In an interview with the semi-official Fars News Agency this week, Admiral Khordad Hakimi, commander of the Iranian Army’s 4th Naval Zone in the Caspian Sea, said that Iran is mass producing light submarines and has begun constructing medium submarines.

Although Iran is well known for grossly exaggerating its military advances, these statements seem on the mark. The Islamic Republic of Iran first became interested in acquiring submarines after it had numerous surface vessels sunk by the U.S. Navy during the Tanker War in the late 1980s. Realizing the futility in taking on the USN directly, Iran embraced an asymmetric strategy. Submarines are one component of this, as are its mine-laying capabilities, anti-ship cruise missiles and fast-attack speedboats and other small craft, which it could use in swarming tactics.

With regards to submarines, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Iran purchased three 877EKM Kilo-class (Tareq-class in Iran) diesel-electric submarines from Russia, reportedly paying US$600 million per vessel. These were commissioned by Iran between 1992 and 1996, and have been renamed Tareq-class submarines by Iran’s Navy.

Iran’s Tareq-class subs displace around 3,900 tons when submerged, and were designed by Russia for anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare, according to Naval Technology. They reportedly have six 533-millimeter tubes, and are capable of carrying either 18 torpedoes or 24 mines.

In reality, the utility of the vessels for Iran’s Persian Gulf operations is limited, as the shallow depth of the sea means they can only operate in about one-third of it. The water’s high salt content also hinders their ability to use passive sonar to locate other ships without being detected.

In November 2007, Iran launched the lead ship of its Ghadir-class midget submarines. These currently form the backbone of Iran’s submarine fleet in the Gulf. Iran claims that the vessel was indigenously built, although many analysts believe it is derived from North Korea’s Yono-class submarine. Iran is now believed to operate about 20 of the 120-ton vessels, which are almost certainly what Hakimi was referring to when he said Iran is now capable of mass producing light submarines.

The Ghadir-class sub has two 533-mm tubes for firing torpedoes, is capable of laying mines and, according to Iranian media outlets, could be used to transport and insert special forces into enemy territory. At the time of the lead ship’s launch in 2007, an Iranian naval official was quoted as saying, “If the enemy makes a mistake, he will receive such a powerful second strike that he won't be able to stand up.”

This is not precisely how Iran would use the vessels according to Christopher Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, who previously served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, with postings in the Fifth Fleet.

Harmer tells The Diplomat that by Western standards, Iran’s Ghadir-class subs are “very small, very short range, with minimal capability.” Nonetheless, the submarines serve Iran’s purposes well, he adds, explaining:

“The quietest submarine in the world is one that rests on a sandy seabed. That is how the Iranians would use the Ghadir – get it out of port, sink to the bottom of the shallow Persian Gulf, rest on the sandy bottom, and wait for a target to come to it.”

In doing so, Iran would be seeking to avoid the U.S. Navy’s formidable ASW capabilities, according to Harmer. “The Iranian submarines are very low quality, but if they put their submarines out into the Persian Gulf and put them on the bottom, just resting there, it will be very difficult for us to find them. As long as a submarine is not moving, it is not putting out any ambient noise. If it is not putting out ambient noise, the only way to find it is with an active sonar. Our best active sonar detection ranges for a static target resting on the bottom are maybe 2,500 yards.”

Thus, hunting Iran’s subs would require coming into close contact with them, unless they fired a torpedo, in which case they “would be immediately detected and completely vulnerable to counterattack.” In light of this, Harmer points out that Iran’s submarine doctrine rests on deterrence. If deterrence fails, Iran’s subs would in effect become “suicide vessels.”

Iran’s ability to threaten shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, which 20 percent of the world’s oil travels, is one of the three legs of its deterrent-based military doctrine. The midget submarines play a large role in Iran’s effort to convince the U.S. and its allies that it poses a credible threat to the strait. In principle, the Ghadir-class submarines, used as Harmer explained, could be effective in disrupting shipping. Besides being able to lay mines (Iran has other ships for this), Iran could exploit the narrow shipping lanes and limited routes in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf by pre-positioning subs to attack commercial vessels.

This would require using the submarines as “suicide vessels” however, and probably could only be maintained for a limited period of time, given the likely scope of the USN’s response. Were Iran’s submarines to pursue offensive action, the U.S. would be able to call on its Gulf Cooperation Council and NATO allies in responding to the threat, according to Harmer.

Still, it’s worth noting that the Fars New Agency article this week in which Hakimi discussed Iran’s ability to mass produce light submarines concluded by reaffirming that Iran has the capability to close the strait, although many experts doubt this.

Whatever the extent of the threat of Iran’s current midget submarines, Tehran is clearly playing a long game when it comes to its budding underwater fleet, as will be discussed in a post next week.

Submarine Breaks The Surface Of A Milan Street - A Clever Marketing Stunt That Left Bystanders Completely Baffled

Read the whole article and see all the pictures and video at this link: Daily Mail Online

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