The Ultimate Way to Sink an Aircraft Carrier

The National Interest

David Axe June 18, 2016 

A photo depicting an American nuclear-powered submarine poking its periscope above the waves—within shooting distance of a British aircraft carrier during a war game—is a useful reminder of one of the most important truths of naval warfare.

For every sailor who’s not in a submarine, submarines are real scary.

Stealthy and heavily-armed, subs are by far the most powerful naval vessels in the world for full-scale warfare—and arguably the best way to sink those more obvious icons of naval power, aircraft carriers.

The public may not fully appreciate submarines’ lopsided combat advantage, but the world’s leading navies sure do. Today Chinese, Russian and American submarines, among others, are busy sneaking up on, tracking and practicing sinking rival fleets’ flattops.

The provocative photo, see here (see below), depicts the masts of the U.S. Navy attack submarine USS Dallas near the carrier HMS Illustrious during a naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Oct. 3, 2013. Six warships including Dallas and Illustrious conducted an anti-submarine-warfare exercise that saw Dallas stalking Illustrious while British and American surface warships and helicopters attempted to locate and “sink” the undersea vessel.

[Photo] Periscope of U.S. submarine emerges next to UK aircraft carrier in Middle East waters @theaviationist.com

Neither navy has published the results of the exercise, so it’s not clear whether Dallas got close enough in the course of the war game to simulate firing Mark-48 torpedoes at the flattop, which at 22,000 tons displacement is one of the largest ships in Royal Navy service.

But there are good reasons to assume the 7,000-ton Dallas did succeed in pretend-sinking Illustrious. In 2007 HMCS Corner Brook, a diesel-electric submarine of the Canadian navy, sneaked up on Illustrious during an exercise in the Atlantic.

To prove they could have sunk the carrier, Corner Brook’s crew snapped a photo through the periscope—and the Canadian navy helpfully published it.“The picture represents hard evidence that the submarine was well within attack parameters and would have been successful in an attack,” boasted Cmdr. Luc Cassivi, commander of the Canadian submarine division.

Periscope view of HMS Illustrious, courtesy HMCS Corner Brook

October 10, 2013

Image @quotulatiousness.ca

In 2007 HMCS Corner Brook, a diesel-electric submarine of the Canadian navy, sneaked up on Illustrious during an exercise in the Atlantic.

To prove they could have sunk the carrier, Corner Brook’s crew snapped a photo through the periscope — and the Canadian navy helpfully published it. “The picture represents hard evidence that the submarine was well within attack parameters and would have been successful in an attack,” boasted Cmdr. Luc Cassivi, commander of the Canadian submarine division.

Corner Brook, a former British submarine displacing only 2,400 tons, is no more capable than Dallas — and probably much less so once crew training is taken into account. American submariners spend far more time at sea than their Canadian counterparts.

Dallas and Corner Brook scored their simulated carrier kills against allied warships in the context of a scripted exercise. But many other close encounters between subs and flattops have occurred between rival nations deep at sea, in a usually bloodless duel that is nevertheless deadly serious. Read original article @quotulatiousness.ca (This part not in actual article from NI)

Corner Brook, a former British submarine displacing only 2,400 tons, is no more capable than Dallas—and probably much less so once crew training is taken into account. American submariners spend far more time at sea than their Canadian counterparts.

Dallas and Corner Brook scored their simulated carrier kills against allied warships in the context of a scripted exercise. But many other close encounters between subs and flattops have occurred between rival nations deep at sea, in a usually bloodless duel that is nevertheless deadly serious.

To prepare its submarines to hunt and sink American aircraft carriers in some future World War III, during the Cold War the Soviet navy ordered its hundreds of sub captains to get as close as possible to U.S. flattops … and stay there. The U.S. Navy routinely surrounds its multi-billion-dollar carriers with escorts including surface ships and submarines, but the defensive screen is not impenetrable.

In 1974 a Soviet Il-38 patrol plane spotted what was later described as the carrier USS Nimitz and its escorts off the U.S. East Coast. The ship’s identity is in doubt, as in 1974 the brand-new Nimitz was in the water at a Virginia shipyard and still being worked on.

Whichever carrier it was, Soviet commanders instructed an attack submarine to track the flattop and its escorts. “Three days we [followed] Nimitz [sic],” navigator Pavel Borodulkin told Tom Briggs, an American who visited Russia decades later.

Borodulkin implied that the sub spent much of the time at a depth of 120 feet. As for being detected … “We did not worry,” Borodulkin said, explaining that American sonar was not optimized for detecting a target moving on the same course and speed as the vessel doing the searching.

“Our stealth was high,” Borodulkin said. To prove his claims, the navigator gave Briggs the above blurry photo of a flattop, snapped through the Soviet sub’s periscope.

That wasn’t the only NATO carrier the Soviets tailed. In 1984 a Victor-class Soviet submarine played cat and mouse with the flattop USS Kitty Hawk off the Korean Peninsula. The Americans lost track of the Victor and, in the dead of night, the 80,000-ton carrier actually collided with the 5,000-ton sub.

“I felt the ship shudder violently and, going to the starboard side, I could see two periscopes and the upper part of a submarine moving away,” Kitty Hawk Capt. Dave Rogers told The Sydney Morning Herald. A Japanese patrol plane later spotted the apparently damaged Victor limping away at three knots.

In November the same year Illustrious, then a young vessel, passed within 500 yards of a Soviet Tango-class submarine during a Royal Navy exercise off the Scottish coast, according to The Robesonian newspaper.

When the Soviets introduced their own small aircraft carriers in the mid-1970s, British and American subs no doubt watched them as closely as Soviet undersea boats followed NATO flattops. But there were no public accounts of Western subs getting caught doing so until 2007, when a Russian newspaper reported that warships escorting the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the Atlantic pursued an unspecified submarine for half an hour.

The snooping sub reportedly got away by deploying self-propelled decoys.

After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, the Russian submarine force shrank considerably and, for a few years at least, was much less aggressive. The Russian carrier fleet declined to a single vessel, the Admiral Kuznetsov.

American attention gradually shifted east to the Pacific, where in the early 2000s China had launched a massive naval rearmament program that included refurbishing a former Soviet carrier, a sister ship of the Admiral Kuznetsov that was renamed Liaoning in Chinese service.

In addition to their new flattop, the Chinese built several new submarines per year on average, soon boasting a fleet of some 60 undersea boats—about as numerous as American subs.

Not nearly as large, advanced or active as U.S. subs, the Chinese boats were at a huge disadvantage. Beijing’s subs struggled to gather intelligence and develop wartime tactics. They enjoyed at least one dramatic success in October 2006, when a Chinese Song-class diesel-electric attack submarine quietly surfaced within nine miles of Kitty Hawk in the waters between Japan and Taiwan.

A Chinese Submarine Stalked an American Aircraft Carrier

A Chinese submarine stalked the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan for “at least half a day” on October 24, according to a US official quoted by CNN. 

The incident occurred off the coast of Japan, where the Reagan is based. The official did not state how close the submarine got to the Reagan. In 2006, a Chinese Song-class submarine surfaced within five miles of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, apparently without being detected. Read rest of article @popularmechanics.com (This part not in actual article from NI)

The submarine involved in October’s incident was likely an Improved Kilo class submarine. Also known as Project 636, the Improved Kilo was one of ten purchased from Russia in 1994. Most, if not all of China’s Improved Kilo submarines are based in Xiangshan, with China’s Eastern Fleet.

The Improved Kilo class is a diesel electric submarine built to run quiet. It is notably quieter than the Song class involved in the 2006 incident, and its engine machinery is sound-isolated to prevent noise while running. The outer hull of each sub is coated in rubber squares—known as a anechoic coating—to further reduce noise.

The Song-class vessel, displacing 2,200 tons, was close enough to hit the Kitty Hawk with a torpedo. None of the carrier’s roughly dozen escorting warships detected the Song until it breached the surface. American officers were flabbergasted.

“This could well have escalated into something that was very unforeseen,” said Adm. Bill Fallon, then commander of U.S. Pacific forces.

But it’s apparent that China is more scared of American submarines than the Americans are scared of Chinese boats. In 2012 Liaoning was finally ready to set sail from the Dalian shipyard. As Beijing’s only carrier facing a fleet of 10 American flattops, Liaoning was widely expected to stage from China’s most modern naval base on Hainan Island in the south, near Taiwan and Vietnam.

Instead Beijing announced the 70,000-ton carrier would be heading north to Qingdao. The apparent reason was that the area around Qingdao was already home to a squadron of Song-class submarines plus Type 091 nuclear subs. Those vessels are the best defense China possesses against the American and Japanese subs that will undoubtedly hound Liaoning every time she leaves port, practicing to sink the carrier in the event of war.

Doing, in other words, what submarines do best.

This first appeared in WarIsBoring here

@nationalinterest.org

Main picture is ATTACK SUBMARINE PROJECT 671RTM Victor class @bastion-karpenko.ru

****-END-****

Related post:

Revealed: Russian-Built Kilo Submarine ‘Kills’ American Nuclear Sub

Inside the Ring: Pentagon Confirms China Begins Missile Submarine Patrols

How to Sink a U.S. Navy Carrier: China Turns to France For Ideas

HMCS Corner Brook (SSK 878)

HMCS Corner Brook (R) cruises around the Bedford Basin in December 2006 @thechronicleherald.ca

HMCS Corner Brook (SSK 878) is a long-range hunter-killersubmarine (SSK) of the Royal Canadian Navy. She is the former Royal Navy Upholder class submarine HMS Ursula (S42), purchased from the British at the end of the Cold War. She is the third boat of theVictoria class and is named after the city of Corner BrookNewfoundland.

General characteristics
Class and type: Upholder/Victoria-classsubmarine
Type: Fleet submarines / long range hunter-killer submarines
Displacement:
  • 2,185 long tons (2,220 t) surfaced
  • 2,400 long tons (2,439 t) submerged
Length: 70.26 m (230 ft 6 in)
Beam: 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)
Draught: 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in)
Propulsion:
Speed:
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
  • 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h)+ submerged
Range: 10,000 nautical miles (18,500 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Test depth: 200 m (660 ft)
Complement: 53 officers and crew
Armament:

Data @wikiwand.com

HMCS Victoria Class Cutaway with Lazcom HMCS Victoria Class Cutaway with Lazcom – Image @daniellittle.com

Project 671 Victor class 

Soviet Navy Victor III Class(Project 671RTMK) SSN 83529 – Image @hobbyboss.com

In 1976 the first of the Victor III units was launched at the Admiralty Shipyard. In 1978 the Komsomolsk yard joined the production team, building two boats per year after the end of Delta I class production. A total of 26 Victor III class boats were built between 1978 and 1992. Given the Soviet designation of Schuka, the Victor IIIs are unofficially known to the US Navy as the Walker class, since many of the improvements in quieting the boats and in providing them with more effective sensors were the product of the activities of the Walker spy ring in the 1970s and 1980s.

ussr-victor-iii-section-3-

Clusterguard anechoic coatings helped to decrease radiated noise levels as the design was improved, the Victor III class being described officially in US Navy circles as the equivalent to the USS Sturgeon class SSN in quietness. They also have bow hydroplanes that retract into the hull at high underwater speeds or when a boat is on the surface.

Surviving Victor I and Victor II class boats had been decommissioned by 1996, along with about a dozen of the first Victor IIIs.

Entered service 1979
Crew 115 men
Diving depth (operational) 320 m
Diving depth (maximum) 396 m
Sea endurance 80 days
Dimensions and displacement
Length 107.2 m
Beam 10.8 m
Draught 7.2 m
Surfaced displacement 5 000 tons
Submerged displacement 7 000 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 18 knots
Submerged speed 30 knots
Nuclear reactors 2 x VM-4T
Steam turbines 1 x 22.7 MW
Armament
Missiles 2 x SS-N-15 ‘Starfish’ anti-submarine missiles, plus 2 x SS-N-21 ‘Sampson’ cruise missiles or 2 x SS-N-16 ‘Stalion’ missiles
Torpedoes 2 x 650-mm and 6 x 533-mm bow tubes (two 533-mm tubes with 406-mm liners). 6 x 650-mm torpedoes an up to 18 x 533-mm
Other 36 ground mines in place of torpedoes

Data @military-today.com

Russia – Victor Type III Class SSN [Submarine] – Image @the-blueprints.com

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s