Conference call Saturday 14 Mar 2020 @ 0900 Eastern Daylight Savings Time United States of America (USA)
Date: 15 March 2020
From: Lars Nordenberg and the Submariners of Sweeden firstname.lastname@example.org
The ISA Heads of Delegations met in a telephone conference call on 14 March 2020. The three countries with scheduled Congress, included a positive reaction from the rest of the participants, agreed to move all three congresses one year into the future. The Congress for this year 2020 is canceled. The Swedish Congress will now be held in May of 2021. The Grecian Congress will follow in 2022, and Germany will conduct its Congress in 2023. Details are forthcoming within two weeks.
The Swedish Congress website
The USSVI Convention in Tucson Web Page
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John Bud Cunnally E.T.C. (SS) Ret. USN – President
International Submariners Association of the USA (ISA/USA)
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Russia Says New US Weapon Threatens Nuclear War
Russia has criticized the Trump administration's pursuit and deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads, arguing it may raise the prospects of a nuclear conflict. At the same time, however, the United States estimates its top foe has up to 2,000 such warheads.
© Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ashley Berumen/Commander, Submarine Group Ten/US Navy The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS. Tennessee arrives at the Trident Refit Facility dry dock at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, for a maintenance period, 13 August 2019. The vessel is capable of carrying up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with multiple warheads, one or two of which are believed to be equipped with the W76-2 warhead, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
Russian Foreign Minister Maria Zakharova on Friday blasted the $28.9 billion budget proposed for the Pentagon's nuclear modernization program, along with the additional $15.6 billion earmarked for the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration's efforts to revamp the US nuclear warhead arsenal. Among the weapons being developed and deployed is the W76-2, a nuclear warhead with lower yields that Zakharova and others contend could make them a more readily-available option in the event of a conflict.
"We note that Washington is not just modernizing its nuclear forces, but is striving to give them new capabilities, which significantly expands the likelihood of their use," Zakharova told a press conference.
"Of particular concern in this regard are US actions to increase the range of low-power assets in its nuclear arsenal, including the development and deployment of such munitions for strategic carriers. This leads to lowering the 'threshold' for the use of atomic weapons," she added.
But the concept of low-yield nuclear weapons dates back to the Cold War, and both countries have developed such capabilities.
A Pentagon spokesperson told Newsweek that "Russia currently has approximately 2,000 non-strategic, low-yield nuclear weapons. This includes nuclear torpedoes, nuclear air, and missile defense interceptors, nuclear depth charges, nuclear landmines, and nuclear artillery shells—more than a dozen types. None of these are limited by any current arms control treaties."
"If Russia believes the W76-2 lowers the threshold for nuclear use, then it must explain why its own non-strategic, low-yield nuclear weapons don't likewise increase the likelihood of a conflict going nuclear," the spokesperson said. "It is more likely that Russia recognizes the W76-2 deployment as a demonstration of US resolve, thereby contributing to the deterrence of any nuclear attack."
The US and Russia have long accused one another of developing tactical nuclear devices, perhaps less destructive than their larger counterparts but still extremely more potent than even the most earth-shattering conventional munitions. The five-to-seven-kiloton W76-2 may produce a third of the detonation force of the relatively primitive atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 but explodes with up to 500 times the strength of the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or "Mother of All Bombs (MOAB)."
The W76-2 warhead was revealed in last year's budget as part of the Trump administration's 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. "Expanding flexible US.
nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression," the document noted, accusing Russia of pursuing its low-yield warhead program.
© Russian Ministry of Defense The Russian military tests the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle at the Dombarovsky Air Base near Yasny in Russia's Orenburg province, 26 December 2018. The weapon was said capable of traveling more than 20 times the speed of sound, delivering a missile faster than any existing defense. Russian Ministry of Defense
In January, Newsweek reported that the W76-2 had been fielded, armed to a Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The following month, the Pentagon announced that the low-yield warhead had been deployed as part of the Trump administration's efforts "to address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and partners."
The Pentagon also announced last year that it would be looking into developing a nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N). Both W76-2 and the SLCM-N "are measured responses to close gaps in regional deterrence that have emerged in recent years," the Pentagon spokesperson told Newsweek.
"The employment of the W76-2 has not changed the United States' threshold for using nuclear weapons," the spokesperson said. "Rather, it raises the threshold for nuclear use by potential adversaries by addressing adversary perception of advantage, improves our nuclear deterrent, allows the US to negotiate from a position of strength, and brings an enhanced assurance element to our allies."
As for the Pentagon itself, the nuclear-related portion of its $705 billion budget for 2021 includes funds devoted to revamping nuclear command, control and communications, the new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, the B-21 Long-Range Strike Bomber, Long-Range Stand-off Missile, and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent.
Speaking frankly at his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee last week, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Army General Mark Milley again brought up Russia as the top priority for US nuclear modernization efforts. "They are the only country on the Earth that represents a, no kidding, existential threat to the United States," he told lawmakers.
"Every man, woman, and child can be killed by the Russians, and we can do the same, hence deterrence," Milley added. "Maintaining a guaranteed nuclear enterprise is critical relative to Russia. Concerning China, its nuclear enterprise is proliferating."
The Pentagon spokesperson agreed, but noted that "the US is not attempting to match or counter adversaries system for system." Instead, "modifying a small number of existing SLBMs addresses the imbalance in non-strategic nuclear weapons and ensure our deterrence remains strong in the face of the changing nuclear environment with both Russia and China," the spokesperson said.
But Moscow has dismissed this line of reasoning, arguing that Washington was the clear aggressor.
At a Pentagon press briefing last month, US defense officials revealed that the US military had conducted a "mini-exercise" simulating a scenario in which "Russia decides to use a low-yield limited nuclear weapon against a site on NATO territory." The US hit back with a simulated nuclear strike, and one official only characterized as "limited" in nature.
Russia responded to the revelation with outrage, accusing the US of fear-mongering and normalizing nuclear war with the "sick" exercise. On Friday, Zakharova further castigated the US approach to atomic modernization, telling reporters: "One gets the impression that in Washington they have decided to purposefully consider nuclear conflict as a viable political option and create the corresponding potential for this."
She accused the US of trying to justify its actions by blaming Russia and China. "We consider such plans destabilizing," Zakharova argued. "A much more effective way to ensure national security is to continue the policy of arms control and establish peaceful interaction with other states, to which we again call on the United States."
The Trump administration abandoned the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (IN) Treaty in August, after accusing Moscow of developing a banned missile capable of traveling within the 310- to the 3,420-mile restricted range. The president has also dismissed Russian attempts to extend their bilateral New Strategic Reduction Arms Treaty (START) unless a new warhead-limiting framework was established involving new platforms like hypersonic missiles and additional countries such as China.
The State Department reiterated this offer for a trilateral arms arrangement Thursday on the 50th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian rejected it. Beijing, which has significantly less nuclear warheads than Moscow and Washington, seeks multilateral cooperation, but not limitation.
"China has repeatedly reiterated that it has no intention of participating in the so-called trilateral arms control negotiations with the US and Russia. This position is obvious," Zhao said Friday. "The pressing issue on nuclear disarmament at the moment is for the United States to respond to Russia's call to extend the New START Treaty and further downsize its huge nuclear arsenal. This will create conditions for other nuclear-weapon states to join multilateral disarmament talks."
Sonar Equipped Drone Fleets Could be Key to Future Submarine Warfare
By: Megan Eckstein
March 9, 2020 12:25 PM
A NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) Ocean Explorer autonomous uncrewed vehicle operates in the foreground with NATO Research Vessel N.R.V. Alliance in the background. NATO CMRE photo.
CATANIA, Sicily – The future of anti-submarine warfare for countries who can’t afford to invest in top-of-the-line submarines and maritime patrol aircraft could be a netted fleet of unmanned platforms, which can create “passive acoustic barriers” at chokepoints or drag towed arrays through a country’s territorial waters.
NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation is showcasing these ideas at NATO exercises such as the ongoing Dynamic Manta annual ASW exercise, showing off different operations that could one day be commonplace if navies and their industrial bases decide to invest.
CMRE Director Catherine Warner said the organization has been working with autonomous vehicles in the undersea warfare area for the past 20 years to understand how they can contribute to perhaps the most complex type of naval warfare.
“The big idea in this whole realm of unmanned systems is figuring out the right systems with the right sensors and the right scenario that’s going to be cost and operationally effective,” she told USNI News after the kickoff of Dynamic Manta. She said ASW is “high-end asset-intensive” and that, while crewless vessels can’t do everything a manned sub or plane can, they can perform some specific missions that would be cost-prohibitive to do with human-crewed vehicles.
One prime example is the passive acoustic barrier. Noting that CMRE puts passive sensors on all the autonomous vehicles, buoys, and seabed devices the organization puts in the water, Warner said CMRE used all its sensors to demonstrate a passive acoustic barrier off the coast of Sicily in the days leading up to the start of Dynamic Manta.
While in this demonstration, they tracked the flow of commercial ships across the “barrier,” the ultimate idea would be to track the movement of submarines at chokepoints such as the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) Gap. The specifics of the uncrewed vehicle wouldn’t matter as much as the quality of the sensor and the ability to differentiate the clutter from the sounds of submarines.
NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) graphic.
On the more active side of sub-hunting, CMRE has been mainly focused on the idea of multi-nation multi-static ASW, where an active sonar source would create pings for dozens or hundreds of passive sensors listening for those sound waves to bounce off of enemy submarines. The more sensors that are in the water, the better they can detect pings and recognize what kind of sub is moving through the water and in what direction.
During Dynamic Manta, CMRE operated alongside manned warships to join in the hunt for submarines, using its “network”: NATO research vessel NRV Alliance, two Ocean Explorer 21-inch diameter autonomous underwater vehicles named Harpo and Groucho, and a fleet of Liquid Robotics’ Wave Gliders that serve as communication nodes between the ship and the AUVs. Harpo and Groucho have a towed array to listen for pings, and more recently, CMRE developed a towed array for the Wave Gliders as well to put more ears in the water.
“Having that extra set of sensors makes a huge difference” in multi-static A.S.W., Warner said, because when an active sonar source like the variable depth sonar on Alliance or a warship like Italian frigate ITS Carabiniere (F 581) sends out energy, they want as many passive sensors in the water as possible to listen for pings.
“When you do multi-static, there are so many more advantages because of the geometry and the extra chances for reflections. So we can do it with ourselves, but if we could do it with all the nations – and that is something that we strive to do with our interaction with the nations … – then everybody, wherever they are, that has a sensor, being able to know the sound source and sync to it and coordinate on the reflections – it is very powerful to be able to do that.”
The key to multi-nation multi-static ASW is information-sharing: they’d all have to know where precisely the active sonar source is, so they could correctly calculate what the pings they pick up mean, and then they’d have to share what they hear with all the other nations involved, too, so they could all adjust their positions as needed to get the best chance at understanding the target submarine and help track it through the water.
Information-sharing can be a hurdle with something as sensitive as ASW, with nations often not wanting others to know the exact nature of their capabilities. Still, Warner said the scale to which NATO could track submarines under the water would be powerful if everyone could find a way to come together.
Today, Harpo and Groucho talk to each other while looking for subs, and if one picks up a sound, they will coordinate amongst themselves to get into the best positions for the best geometries to hear sonar pings. The more AUVS in the water collaborating, the better.
“We’ve done it. We’ve already shown that multi-static ASW works. That’s our system: we’ve been doing it since 2012 in Dynamic Manta, we’ve demonstrated it operationally, and we just keep adding things onto it. So it can be done. So, whether other nations want to do it with us, that’s up to them,” Warner said.
NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) operates two Ocean Explorer autonomous uncrewed vehicles named Harpo and Groucho. NATO CMRE photo.
Warner said Harpo and Groucho are 21-inch diameter AUVs that were built by Florida Atlantic University. The vehicles themselves are 18 years old, but the batteries and sensors are continually being upgraded, meaning the car that originally had four hours of battery life can now operate for 72 hours without intervention.
CMRE’s Dan Hutt told USNI News that the next step would be to scale up these operations. To conduct multi-static ASW in the GIUK Gap, for example, would require hundreds of AUVs from participating NATO nations. The idea, though, would be to “flood the ocean with lots of cheap assets – they all have sensors, potentially different kinds of sensors, they can all talk to each other over a vast network – that’s a compelling concept for ASW. We only have a handful of these, so we want to scale up and work with the nations to do a bigger demonstration.”
While several NATO countries are upgrading their fleets of “high-end submarines and frigates,” many cannot afford such exquisite systems, Warner said.
“But they certainly can afford a fleet of crewless vehicles with towed arrays. And if they were all using the same standard, they could all buy from their own countries’ industry – that’s what we’re about, we’re not competing with industry, we’re developing standards,” she continued.
“Every nation’s industry would benefit from building these vehicles and the towed arrays, and then they could all operate together.”
CMRE has already made a machine learning effort to support the back end of this effort – researchers collected 52 days worth of sonar echoes from diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) and created algorithms to help the uncrewed vehicles recognize SSK sounds and ignore the clutter. This could be shared with the NATO members who want to join in this effort. Warner said Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands are taking steps to incorporate AUVs into their ASW efforts, but she’s hoping to see more.
A final technology CMRE is showing off at Dynamic Manta is an undersea communication network. NATO nations had previously agreed to use the JANUS as the digital underwater communications standard. However, CMRE is still hard at work developing waveforms that will be cyber-secure and low-probability of intercept, as well as emerging concepts of operations for its usage.
Ahead of Dynamic Manta, CMRE demonstrated they could use JANUS to send submarines the surface picture with Automatic Identification System (AIS) tracks – so the subs could know how to safely surface – by sending the message from a ship, through the Wave Gliders as comms nodes, and to the submarine underwater.
Warner said they call this setup “WetsApp” – a nod to the WhatsApp digital communication app on cellphones – and said it’s a vast improvement over the voice communication tools they previously used to send messages to submarines, which could quickly get garbled or lost altogether.
“Before, when they were submerged, submarines could only use something called an underwater telephone, which is very difficult to use, it’s distorted, hard to understand,” she said.
“But we can text them – we have a little program, we call it WhatsApp, sort of WhatsApp, and we can send them, for example, the surface picture – if they were going to come to the surface, they would know where all the ships are on the surface. So that’s a fundamental technology that we’ve already helped insert into the industrial base.”
Underwater ‘eyes and ears’ ordered for Royal Navy’s Dreadnought submarines
Photo: UK MOD
BAE Systems Submarines, which is building four nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy, has awarded work worth around GBP 330 million (USD 426.4 million) to Thales UK.
The outlay – part of a GBP 31 billion investment by Whitehall in the nation’s ultimate weapon – will see the latest Sonar 2076 suite — which encompasses bow, flank and towed array systems and is used by Trafalgar and Astute-class boats — fitted to HM submarines Dreadnought, Valiant, Warspite and King George VI.
Also, an updated version of the digital periscopes – now known as the ‘Combat System Mast’ – has been ordered.
“These next-generation sonars and sensors will ensure our nuclear deterrent remains a stealth and detection advantage over adversaries,” Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said.
The Dreadnoughts will be equipped with second-generation optronic periscopes, combining electronic warfare technology with cameras.
The scopes will be fitted with many of the same features but inside a smaller, less obtrusive mast to make it even harder to locate the boat.
The sonar system will be developed at Thales’ sites in Templecombe, Somerset, and Stockport.
The next-generation Dreadnought submarines will be the Royal Navy’s most advanced submarines ever when they enter service from the early 2030s and will be vital in providing the UK’s nuclear deterrent, as they replace the Vanguard-class of ballistic missile submarines.
John Bud Cunnally E.T.C. (SS) Ret. USN – President
International Submariners Association of the USA (ISA/USA)
4704 Coppola Drive
Mount Dora, Fl 32757-8069