Very Important news from Sweden-U.S.S. Grayback found-Italian Secret Sub-Restoring 2nd Virginia for 2021-Energy Management for UUV's-More Than Tracking Russian Subs-Secret Submarine Base-Crew not ready on sub that ran aground-
Date: 08 Mar 2020
From: Lars Nordenberg and the Submariners of Sweeden email@example.com
We follow the development of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) with concern! However, so far, there is no recommendation to cancel the entire event. The risk is that there will be an entry ban from some countries in the future. The other day, all flights from Iran to Sweden were canceled. Another country we are studying more closely is South Korea, where many are affected. Countries like Italy and France are also a bit worrying for the moment.
I have also contacted the different hotels we booked and hear what they have to say about the development. For the moment, no restrictions.
The spread of the virus will definitely not slow down until the month of May. It is vital to get the message out to everyone to think carefully about their Hygiene and Health Before they travel.
There is a "station" set up outside the hospital in Karlskrona, which investigates suspected Coronavirus cases before being admitted to the hospital. Hopefully, we don´t have to go there during the Congress.
We are holding our thumbs to avoid having to cancel the event in May.
The Swedish May 2020 Congress website
The USSVI Convention in Tucson Web Page
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Thales UK has been awarded contracts worth around $422.8 million to develop the sonar suite and above-water sensor systems for the new Royal Navy Dreadnought Class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). Previously known as Successor, the Dreadnought submarine program is planned to replace the RN's four existing Vanguard Class SSBNs - one for one, from the early 2030s - to maintain a posture of continuous at-sea deterrence. Manufacture work on the first two 17,200-tonne displacement boats is underway at the BAE Systems Maritime - Submarines' Barrow-in-Furness shipyard facility in Cumbria.
Experts Unraveled The Mystery Of A Lost WWII Submarine – And Its 80 Vanished Crew Members
By Ken Macdonald
February 15, 2020
Image: atese/Getty Images
Tim Taylor and his team are searching for a U.S. submarine that disappeared in 1944 off the coast of Japan, with 80 sailors on board. As the remotely controlled underwater vehicle searches under the depths, however, it frustratingly develops a fault. So, Taylor brings the craft back to the surface and takes a glance at the data that it’s recorded. Then he spots two anomalies, which prompted him to send down yet another probe. And what the technology unearths is enough to make the hairs on your arms stand on end.
The sub that the researchers and technicians were searching for was the U.S.S. Grayback, or S.S.-208, as it was less lyrically known. This salvage operation was carried out on behalf of the Lost 52 Project, which is dedicated to locating the 52 U.S. submarines that disappeared in the Second World War. The U.S. Navy had previously posted Grayback as missing in late March 1944.
Image: Corbis via Getty Images
Grayback had embarked on a combat patrol from Pearl Harbor on January 28, 1944. It was her tenth such mission, and, as it happens, it would be her final one. Before disappearing beneath the waves, though, the sub sent a message back to base on February 24, reporting that she’d sunk the Japanese freighters Toshin Maru and Taikei Maru as well as damaging two others.
The sub sent yet another message on February 25. This time, the crew reported that the craft had damaged the liner Asama Maru – which the Japanese had pressed into military service as a troop carrier – and sunk the tanker Nanpo Maru. And since these attacks over two days had left Grayback with only two torpedoes, she was therefore set to sail to Midway Atoll in the North Pacific for resupply.
That February 25 radio message was the last that anyone heard from Grayback, however. And while Navy commanders had expected that the submarine would subsequently dock at Midway Atoll on around March 7, 1944, there was no sign of her on that date. Even more alarmingly, Grayback still hadn’t appeared three weeks later. The authorities had no choice, then, but to declare her and her crew of 80 as lost at sea – which they subsequently did on March 30.
Image: Bettmann/Getty Images
We’ll soon come back to the mystery of the Grayback’s disappearance, but let’s pause the story for the moment and learn a little more about this U.S. Navy submarine’s history. Shipbuilders laid the keel of U.S.S. Grayback down at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut, on April 3, 1940.
The project was in good hands, too, as the skilled Electric Boat Company workers at Groton had been building submarines since 1899. The first boat that the business had constructed had been the U.S. Navy’s very first submarine, U.S.S. Holland, which had been commissioned in 1900. During the time of the First World War, Electric Boat and associated shipyards built 85 submarines as well as much other craft for both the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy. Ten months after the Electric Boat Company had started her construction, Grayback was launched on January 31, 1941, by Rear Admiral Wilson Brown’s wife. The submarine was subsequently commissioned into the U.S. Navy on June 30 – only five months or so before America became embroiled in the Second World War after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Then, during the Second World War, Electric Boat created another 74 submarines – including the Grayback. She was a Tambor-class vessel, of which 12 were built and seven destroyed during the war before Tambor submarines were withdrawn from combat service in 1945. Grayback, of course, was one of those subs that never made it to the end of the conflict.
When Grayback was finally completed, however, she was a little over 300 feet from stem to stern and displaced 2,410 tons when submerged. At her widest point, she measured just over 27 feet, while her maximum surface speed was around 20 knots with an underwater rate of only under nine knots. At lower speed, meanwhile, she could stay submerged for up to 48 hours, and her range was nearly over 12,500 miles.
The submarine’s two propellers were driven by four electric motors that, in turn, were charged by a quartet of diesel engines, and her maximum diving depth was tested to 250 feet. Plus, her official crew strength was 54 enlisted men and six officers – although, as we’ve already found out, she had 80 men aboard when she disappeared in 1944.
Grayback was well-equipped, too, with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes – six set towards the bow and four at the stern. Further armament consisted of a 50-caliber machine gun and Bofors 40mm and Oerlikon 20mm cannons – all of which were mounted on the deck. These weapons were intended as a defense against assault from the air and could also be used in attacks on enemy shipping when the sub was surfaced.
Following her commissioning, Grayback embarked on her shakedown cruise under the command of Lieutenant Willard A. Saunders on Long Island Sound. This, naturally, was an opportunity to test out the submarine’s systems and to allow the crew to familiarize themselves with the vessel. And with the sub standing up to the task, she subsequently went on patrol to the Chesapeake Bay and the Caribbean in September 1941.
Then, following further maintenance at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on the Maine coast, Grayback headed for Pearl Harbor in February 1942 – as the U.S. was decidedly now in the Second World War. And things were about to get dangerous for the boat and her crew. On February 15, the submarine set off on her first wartime patrol. She sailed into the Pacific and cruised along the coasts of the island of Guam, which Japan had invaded in December 1941.
Grayback also sailed near to the coast of Saipan, which at that time was Japanese territory. And during this patrol – which lasted three weeks – the boat spent four days in a cat-and-mouse game with a Japanese submarine. The skirmish saw the enemy unleash two torpedoes at Grayback, and while she emerged unscathed, she was unable to maneuver into position to return fire.
After escaping the attentions of the Japanese sub, however, Grayback succeeded in sinking her first ship: a cargo vessel of 3,291 tons. Grayback’s second patrol, by contrast, was a relatively uneventful affair and ended when she docked at Fremantle. This Western Australian port would be her base for most of the rest of her career.
On Christmas Day 1942, Grayback surfaced, catching four landing barges unawares. She proceeded to sink them all with her deck guns. Then, four days later, an enemy sub fired torpedoes at the sub, but the Grayback’s crew took successful evasive action. The start of 1943 was similarly eventful, as the U.S. sub attacked the Imperial Japanese Navy vessel I-18. And while I-18 ultimately escaped undamaged this time around, the destroyer U.S.S. Fletcher sank the Japanese boat with depth charges the following month. All her 102 crewmen perished as a consequence.
During this fifth tour, moreover, Grayback carried out a daring rescue operation. Six Americans who had been aboard a Martin B-26 Marauder bomber that had crash-landed were stranded at Munda Bay on the Solomon Islands. Two of the submarine’s men, therefore, went ashore after dark and found the airmen, while Grayback subsequently dived at dawn in order to escape the attentions of Japanese planes.
Then, the following night, the two submariners successfully ferried the six survivors back to the Grayback. The boat’s captain, Commander Edward C. Stephan – who had succeeded Saunders in September 1942 – won the Navy Cross for this action along with a U.S. Army Silver Star. Meanwhile, continuing on her mission, the submarine torpedoed several Japanese craft, although she was ultimately damaged herself by depth charges dropped from an enemy destroyer.
The weapons had damaged a hatch on Grayback’s hull, and the resulting leakage forced her back to port in Brisbane, Australia. And, unfortunately, the submarine’s next patrol in February 1943 saw no successful attacks – partly owing to a newly fitted but malfunctioning radar. In any case, Grayback managed to survive on her seventh tour, which began from Brisbane on April 25, 1943.
On this cruise, Grayback came across a Japanese convoy and hit the merchant ship Yodogawa Maru with two torpedoes, sinking her. Then, a few days later, the U.S. vessel torpedoed an enemy destroyer, causing extensive damage. Nor was that the last of the American victories; the following day, Grayback sank yet another cargo ship, the England Maru, and hit two more. Following these triumphs, then, it was time to sail back to Pearl Harbor and on to San Francisco, California, for a refit.
Then, on September 12, 1943, Grayback was back at Pearl Harbor and ready for another Pacific mission – her eighth of the war – with Commander John Anderson Moore now in charge of the boat. And two weeks after returning to Pearl Harbor, the submarine set off for Midway Atoll alongside the U.S.S. Shad.
At Midway Atoll, Grayback and Shad were joined by the U.S.S. Cero, with the three vessels constituting what was known as a “wolfpack.” This approach of combining submarines as joint attack forces had proved highly successful when used by German U-boats, although it was the first time that the U.S. Navy had tried the tactic.
The new stratagem proved to be effective, however. Between them, the three subs accounted for the sinking of 38,000 tons of Japanese shipping and damage to a further 3,300 tons. Having used up all their torpedoes, the trio then returned to Midway Atoll, arriving there on November 10, 1943. And after the success of this mission, Moore became the second of Grayback’s skippers to win a Navy Cross.
Then, on December 2, 1943, Grayback set off again from Pearl Harbor for the East China Sea. During this ninth patrol, the submarine fired all of her torpedoes in five days of attacks, sinking four Japanese ships in the process before returning once again to Pearl Harbor. Commander Moore’s exploits on that tour earned him a second Navy Cross.
Finally, after stopping off in Pearl Harbor for just over three weeks, Grayback set sail for her tenth – and, as it turned out, her last – active service mission on January 28, 1944. And as we learned earlier, her previous radio contact with base came on February 25. After that, nothing more was ever heard from the submarine, and the Navy duly declared her lost on March 30.
On that final mission, Grayback had singlehandedly sunk a staggering 21,594 tons of Japanese shipping. It had been the third such trip she’d sailed on with Moore at the helm, and the commander was posthumously awarded a third Navy Cross following the sinking. Grayback herself was also ultimately awarded eight battle stars for her Second World War service.
It would be many decades, though, before anyone found out precisely what had happened to Grayback and her 80-strong crew. Initially, the U.S. Navy believed that she had sunk beneath the waves at around 100 miles to the southeast of the Japanese island of Okinawa. Yet as it was later discovered, this assumption was based on data that included a crucial error.
The information that the Navy had relied upon you see came from war records that had been kept by the Japanese. But as it turned out, a single digit in a map reference had been wrongly transcribed when the relevant document was being translated. Consequently, Grayback was far from the location that had been assumed over the years.
And it wasn’t until 2018, when American Tim Taylor decided to re-examine the case of Grayback’s disappearance, that the mystery was untangled. Taylor is the founder of the Lost 52 Project – a private enterprise that is working to find the remains of the 52 submarines that disappeared without a trace during the Second World War.
Taylor had gotten in touch with Japanese researcher Yutaka Iwasaki and had asked him to comb through the files of the Sasebo base that had been used by the Japanese Imperial Navy during the Second World War. The records there included daily radio updates from Naha on Okinawa Island, which had been the site of a Japanese naval air facility.
The Nakajima B5N was a Japanese torpedo bomber, and this particular example flying on February 27 reported that it had dropped a 500-pound bomb on a surfaced submarine. The report also described how the bomb had hit the sub just to the rear of the conning tower, after which the vessel had exploded and quickly sunk with no apparent survivors.
And while speaking to The New York Times in November 2019, Iwasaki described what he had found in the Japanese wartime files. “In that radio record, there [are] a longitude and a latitude of the attack, very clearly,” he explained. What’s more, these coordinates marked a location that was more than 100 miles distant from the one the U.S. Navy had assumed to be correct since 1949
Armed with this new, accurate information, Taylor felt that there was now a realistic chance of locating the wreck of Grayback, and he set off on this mission in the spring of 2019. And, amazingly, the Lost 52 Project team did indeed find the lost submarine, whose hull was almost entirely in one piece even after several decades had passed. But this discovery was a cause for mixed emotions among the divers and researchers.
Speaking to The New York Times, Taylor recalled the feelings of the Lost 52 team. “We were elated. But it’s also sobering because we just found 80 men,” he said. And, of course, there were others for whom this discovery was a momentous event. They were the relatives of the submariners who had lost their lives aboard U.S.S. Grayback.
One of the people greatly affected by the news that Grayback’s remains had been discovered after 75 years was Gloria Hurney, whose uncle Raymond Parks had served aboard the submarine as an electrician’s mate, first class. In November 2019, she told ABC News, “There’s a book I read, and it says these ships are known only to God. But now we know where the Grayback is.”
Hurney also spoke to CNN that same month, telling a reporter, “The discovery brings closure to the questions that surrounded the Grayback as far as its sinking and location. I believe it will allow healing as relatives of crew members come together to share their stories.” Hurney added that upon first hearing about the discovery, she had felt shocked and grief; later on, though, the news had brought peace and comfort.
Kathy Taylor is another relative of one of those who lost their lives aboard Grayback, as John Patrick King – who served as an electrician’s mate, third class – had been both her uncle and godfather. And while speaking to ABC News, she paid a touching tribute to the late veteran saying, “I committed from the very beginning, from a little girl, that I was gonna find him or follow him or keep his memory alive – whatever I could do.”
Thomas hp Anderson from The UK sends this.
Secret Submarine Capability Shown In NATO Photo
H I SuttonContributor
· · NATO’s Dynamic Manta exercise kicked off in the Mediterranean in February. One of the photographs released, of an Italian submarine, shows something particularly compelling. It is not apparent to the untrained eye, but on its back are nine grey blocks. These tell us something about the submarine’s covert mission capability. They are attachments for one of the Italian Navy’s most differentiating capabilities: special forces mini-subs. The Italian Navy is very secretive about these capabilities, so a certain amount of informed guesswork is needed.
The nine small blocks visible on the submarine's casing relate to a special forces capability
The Italian Navy can claim to have invented the modern art of special forces frogmen. Even in World War One, they were sinking battleships using ‘human torpedoes.’ Then in World War Two, they had some dramatic successes, which caused others to follow. This focus continued during the Cold War and beyond but is veiled in great secrecy. The naval Special Forces unit, COMSUBIN, worked closely with Britain’s SBS, France's Commando Hubert, and the U.S. Navy SEALs, among others. Italian consultants also had a significant impact on Israeli and South African capabilities, supplying mini-subs and training. But while many readers will be aware of the mini-subs used by the U.S. Navy SEALs, Italy’s designs are virtually unknown.
Obscurity doesn’t make them less capable, however. The Italian designs are generally said to be about ten years ahead of everyone else. How true this is today can only be speculated about, but they are certainly top tier.
The attachment on the submarine is most likely for a cradle to carry a mini-sub. This is known as a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV) and can take at least six divers. It is built by CABI Cattaneo of Milan, Italy, but very little information is available, and there are no decent photos. It is a fair guess that it incorporates technologies that set it apart from other SDVs.
Another possibility is that the attachments are for a Special Forces hangar, known as a dry deck shelter (DDS). This can carry boats or several diver propulsion vehicles (DPVs). The Italian Navy is thought to use the CABI Cattaneo of Milan ‘Deep Guardian’ hangar and Rotinor Blackshadow 730 DPVs.
These Special Forces capabilities give the Italian Navy very long reach in the Mediterranean. The highly trained COMSUBIN commandos can be landed covertly on foreign shores. For example, there have been rumors of Italian Special Forces operating in war-torn North Africa. Whether submarines have been involved, the capabilities of Italian boats are worthy of a lot more attention than they get.
Report to Congress on Columbia-class Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine Program
February 27, 2020 7:10 AM
The following is the Feb. 26, 2020 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Columbia(SSBN-826) Class Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress.
The Columbia (SSBN-826) class program is a program to design and build a class of 12 new ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to replace the Navy’s current force of 14 agings Ohio-class SSBNs. The Navy has identified the Columbia-class program as the Navy’s top priority program. The Navy wants to procure the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021. Research and development work on the program has been underway for several years, and advance procurement (AP) funding for the first boat began in FY2017. The Navy’s proposed FY2021 budget requests $2,891.5 million in procurement funding, $1,123.2 million in advance procurement (AP) funding, and $397.3 million in research and development funding for the program.
The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission estimates the total procurement cost of the 12-ship class at $109.8 billion in then-year dollars. A May 2019 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report assessing selected major DOD weapon acquisition programs stated that the estimated total acquisition (development plus procurement) cost of the Columbia-class program as of June 2018 was $103,035.2 million (about $103.0 billion) in constant FY2019 dollars, including $13,103.0 million (about $13.1 billion) in research and development costs and $89,932.2 million (about $89.9 billion) in procurement costs.
Issues for Congress for the Columbia-class program include the following:
- whether the Navy has accurately priced the work it is proposing to do in the Columbia-class program in FY2021;
- the risk of cost growth in the program;
- the risk of technical challenges or funding-related issues that could lead to delays in designing and building the lead boat in the program and having it ready for its scheduled initial deterrent patrol in 2031;
- the potential impact of the Columbia-class program on funding that will be available for other Navy programs, including other shipbuilding programs; and
- potential industrial-base challenges of building both Columbia-class boats and Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs) at the same time.
Download the full document below.
Wittman: Restoring 2nd Virginia Major Hill Goal for 2021 NDAA
By: Ben Werner
March 4, 2020 1:14 PM
Sailors aboard to Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Delaware (SSN-791) on Nov. 5, 2019. US Navy Photo
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Restoring funding for a second Virginia-class fast-attack submarine in the Fiscal Year 2021 tops the list of priorities when lawmakers form the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act, said Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee.
The administration’s FY 2021 shipbuilding request is for $19.9 billion to build eight ships. Along with cutting funding for the Virginia-class sub, the FY 2021 request is the smallest for the Navy since 2015 and is four ships fewer than the FY 2020 ship procurement. The request includes cutting funding for the second Virginia-class submarine in FY 2021.
Replacing funding for the second Virginia-class submarine tops the list of shipbuilding priorities, Wittman said Wednesday while speaking at the McAleese and Associates Defense Programs Conference.
“I’m cautiously optimistic we’re going to get that back in,” Wittman said. “It’s like anything else, once the president’s budget comes over to get money into an account, to add something, you got to find the money somewhere else. So without a topline that’s going up, our job is where do you find those dollars.”
President Donald Trump, in FY 2021, is requesting $705.4 billion in funding for the Department of Defense. The budget request provides $207.1 billion for the Navy and Marine Corps in FY 2021, which is about 1.4 percent less than FY 2020.
Two years ago, when HASC pushed to squeeze a third Virginia-class into the NDAA, Wittman said the authorization received bipartisan support in HASC but hit a wall with appropriators who were concerned with where the funding would come from to pay for an additional sub. The third Virginia-class wasn’t added.
Now, Wittman said there’s a greater realization on the Hill of the program’s significance, and the Navy’s current contract allows for the sub, and the funding cut from the President’s FY 2021 budget does not represent the full cost of building a Virginia-class sub. HASC isn’t trying to add a sub to the production plan, Wittman said, but restore the production plan.
“I feel orders of magnitude better now than two years ago,” Wittman said.
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Three U.S. contractors to develop energy management, navigation, for uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs)
The Manta Ray program seeks to demonstrate critical technologies for a new class of long-duration, long-range, payload-capable UUVs.
Feb 25th, 2020
ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are asking three defense companies to develop enabling technologies for future large-size unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) with long endurance and large payload capacity.
Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., have awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., and Navatek LLC for the Manta Ray extra-large unmanned underwater vehicle project.
Manta Ray is to open a design space for future UUVs that are capable of long-duration missions and large payload capacity, as well as to advance critical technologies that will benefit other naval designs such as low-cost UUV operations, long-duration undersea energy management, biofouling reduction, and long-duration navigation.
The Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories in Cherry Hill, N.J., won a $12.3 million Manta-Ray contract Friday, the Northrop Grumman Mission Systems segment in Linthicum, Md., won a $10.1 million settlement Monday, and Navatek in Honolulu won a $5.5 million contract on Monday.
UUVs that operate for extended durations without the need for logistic support or maintenance from humans offer the potential for persistent operations in forwarding environments, DARPA officials explain. Such systems could enhance the flexibility of traditional human-crewed host vessels by providing servicing ports and reduced workloads, officials say.
The Manta Ray program seeks to demonstrate critical technologies for a new class of long-duration, long-range, payload-capable UUVs to give the extra capacity to military commanders without disrupting their operations. Significant aspects of the Manta Ray program are classified.
The Manta Ray program seeks to develop critical technologies in energy management for UUV operations, energy harvesting at submerged depths, low-power and high-efficiency undersea propulsion, and low-power underwater detection and classification of hazards or counter detection threats.
The Manta Ray contractors also will investigate mission-management technologies for extended UUV operations, high-efficiency undersea navigation, and new ways to mitigate biofouling, corrosion, and other material degradation for long-duration missions.
The Manta Ray project will include the at-sea demonstration of critical technologies to define program goals and identify enabling technologies necessary for future systems. On these contracts, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Navatek should be finished by January 2021.
For more information, contact Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories online at www.lockheedmartin.com, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, at www.northropgrumman.com, Navatek at www.navatekltd.com, or DARPA at www.darpa.mil.
NATO’s Mediterranean Maritime Group Mission More Than Tracking Russian Subs
By: Megan Eckstein
March 3, 2020, 2:03 PM
Italian frigate ITS Carabiniere (F 593), the flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2), prepares to push into the Mediterranean Sea during Exercise Dynamic Manta 2020. NATO Photo
ABOARD ITS CARABINIERE, IN THE IONIAN SEA – The Mediterranean Sea has a host of security challenges: Russian submarine activity in the Eastern Med, instability in Syria, and Libya, as well as the flow of migrants and illicit traffic throughout the region.
The Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is tasked with addressing them all.
“Cultural and historical and geographic reasons” contribute to the Mediterranean being one of the most challenging in the world for navies, SNMG-2 commander, Italian Rear Adm. Paolo Fantoni, told USNI News. Addressing those challenges calls for Fantoni and his force to conduct a range of operations, from presence and partner-building operations with non-NATO countries to exercises like the ongoing Dynamic Manta 2020 that prove SNMG-2 to be a credible deterrence force in high-end services like anti-submarine warfare.
Though SNMG-2 can technically be deployed anywhere across the globe to support NATO interests, the group typically focuses on the Mediterranean and Black seas. This means it influences security in Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
On the higher end of the operating spectrum is countering Russian submarine and other naval activity in the Eastern Med, near its naval base in Tartus, Syria.
Rear Adm. Paolo Fantoni. NATO Photo
“The Russian presence is something that has been in the Mediterranean for years, maybe from the 1960s. The presence has been established from the Russian Navy from the base in Tartus in Syria, and the Russians have always operated – the Soviet Union and Russia afterward – has operated from in the Mediterranean, always having assets deployed in the Mediterranean,” Fantoni told USNI News during an interview aboard SNMG-2 flagship ITS Carabiniere (F 593).
“We deploy assets for freedom of navigation in international waters, and we observe the Russians in the Mediterranean, and we respect the rules of safety and navigation, and we expect they do the same with us. We don’t have interactions with the Russians in terms of cooperation activity, but of course, we monitor their activity, as I know they do with us.”
He clarified the notion that these submarines are a threat, giving a more nuanced description.
“In this respect, of course, they are military vessels, they don’t belong to the alliance, they are present – so we could consider them as a threat, but I don’t see a threat, an immediate threat to the forces. We respect their inherent capability but also confident that we are as well prepared for any type of emergency,” he said.
The admiral, who took command of SNMG-2 in December, said he'd had less contact with Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean than his counterpart, Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, typically has in the Baltic Sea and other Northern European waters. During last year’s BALTOPS 2019 exercise, for example, SNMG-1 ships had near-daily contact with Russian ships, helicopters, and jets.
Fantoni said it was possible he’d see more of the Russians when the group eventually moves into the Black Sea for operations. Still, he cautioned that excessively monitoring the activities of a third party can distract from fulfilling his mission: the safe operation and integration of the ships and helicopters in his group.
SNMG-2 has a core group of ships that are conducting training and exercise events in warfare areas and supporting partner-building activities. These ships currently include Carabiniere, Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337), Greek frigate HS Aegean (F 460), and Turkish frigate TCG Salihreis (F 246). However, the composition of the group can change throughout the six-month period in which Fantoni and Carabiniere are in command.
Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean, Deputy Commander Allied Maritime Command (center), presides over the Change of Command Ceremony of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, between Commodore Josée Kurtz, Royal Canadian Navy (left), and Rear Admiral Paolo Fantoni, Italian Navy, at the Taranto Naval Base, Italy, 16 December 2019. NATO photo.
Additionally, SNMG-2 is commanding another task unit led by German frigate FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (F 218) and including Turkish patrol boat TCG Karsiyaka (P-1206) and Greek mine hunter HS Kalypso (M 64), missile boat HS Xenos (P 27) and gunboat HS Machitis (P 266). These ships are dedicated to operations in the Aegean Sea to control the flow of migrants, in support of an agreement between Greece and Turkey in 2016.
To further promote stability in the Med, NATO launched a Mediterranean Dialogue program in 1994 that is aimed at helping non-NATO countries in the region align their forces to NATO standards and procedures and to have more training and interaction opportunities with NATO forces in all domains, including the maritime. Ultimately, successful participation could lead to non-NATO military forces being ready to deploy alongside NATO for certain non-Article five collective defense missions.
Tunisia joined in 2016 and 2018 agreed to seven defense capability-building packages, making them among the furthest along in the program, Fantoni said during a press conference aboard Carabiniere on the first day of the Dynamic Manta exercise. Based on the plan agreed to by Tunisia and NATO – which focuses on education, training, and building interoperability – Tunisian naval forces would be ready to work alongside a NATO group by 2023.
Fantoni said SNMG-2 visited Tunis for a port call in February. During the three-day visit, they trained with the Tunisian navy, and Fantoni worked with the Tunisian chief of the navy to address the current focus of the NATO partnership: exchanging maritime situational awareness information.
Fantoni, who served as the Italian Navy’s defense attaché at the Italian embassy in Tunis from 2016 until the fall of 2019, said they made good progress in outlining how they could exchange data on the Mediterranean environment, patterns of life, typical routes and behaviors of maritime traffic and more – in the aim of helping the Tunisian navy better identify irregular traffic patterns that could indicate illicit activities, including terrorism.
Fantoni said during the press conference that the key to NATO’s credibility is its resolve to maintain freedom and security for all nations in the region.
“As an Italian officer, as an Italian admiral that has served most of the year at sea, I am cautious that the key role of NATO is for the free use of sea and peace in the region – and from my previous experience as military attaché six months ago, I may say that this feeling is shared by most of the countries in the Mediterranean, including non-NATO countries,” he said.
Did the U.S. Navy Build a Secret Submarine Base to Hide from Russia?
Key point: As late as the 1960s, Navy technicians and their families at Point Sur monitored undersea listening posts used to track Soviet subs.
Point Sur is 600 feet of tough rock facing Pacific rollers that come 6,000 miles to pound the central California coast. Like the 19th-century lighthouse that marks the Point, the now-derelict compound of the former Naval Facility Point Sur evokes another era.
And it evokes a mystery — one involving secret underground naval bases, high-tech submarines and Cold War nuclear brinkmanship.
As late as the 1960s, Navy technicians and their families at Point Sur monitored undersea listening posts used to track Soviet subs. According to one legend, it wasn’t merely hydrophones the Navy ran from Point Sur, but submarines themselves based in giant human-made caverns dug into the rock.
There is something mythic and compelling about seashore scarps and naval bases — something drawing on archetypal imagery of treasure concealed in cave waters open to the sea. The ultimate supervillain’s lair, after all, is an island base with undersea access.
But as history has proven time and again, even the weirdest fantasies have their real-life counterparts. And those who dive for Atlantean gold sometimes surface with treasure. There were — and are — some strange ideas deep down in the sea.
By 1966 the two surges into outer space and “inner space” were at their flood tide. While NASA gathered more momentum ever with monthly Gemini flights and a new Mission Control, the success of Sealab II and the CONSHELF III underwater habitat led to a presidential commission on oceanography and a more significant undersea commitment.
The Navy’s efforts to recover a lost hydrogen bomb off the coast of Spain that year and the loss of the attack sub-USS Thresher three years before had brought new funding and discipline to deep submergence systems. In such heady times, dreams of colonizing the continental shelf within a generation seemed like sober predictions.
It was in this environment that C.F. Austin of the China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station proposed the Rock-Site concept: manned undersea installations excavated into the rock of the seafloor. By applying well-understood principles employed for decades by the mining industry, Austin proposed that large bases could be constructed and operated anywhere suitable bedrock occurred in the ocean, at any depth.
Austin realized that even with the mid-1960's technology, it would be possible to sink a full shaft into the seafloor, seal and drain it, then use it as a staging area for further excavation. A tunnel-boring machine could be lowered into the shaft in pieces and then assembled to bore out more tunnels, including one for a small modular nuclear reactor, much like those used at Camp Century in Greenland and McMurdo Base in Antarctica.
There’s very little hype in Austin’s report; the bulk of it is taken up with documentation of tunneling methods and mining operations conducted under the seafloor. These often follow seams and drifts underground as they continue offshore.
According to Austin, one Nova Scotia mine, Dominion Coal’s Cape Breton operation, consisted of “a complex of many consolidated undersea mines ranging in depth from 200 to 2,700 feet below the seafloor, with a water cover of 60 to 100 feet. These mines span an area of approximately 75 square miles and presently employ some 4,100 men in the undersea workings.”
Among the benefits of Rock-Site, Austin noted its immunity to weather and currents, its shirt-sleeve environment, and its (very) controlled access. And Austin was not thinking small. “Structures within the seafloor can easily be made large and comfortable enough to permit the quartering of crews and their families for extended periods,” he wrote, “and can be made large enough to serve as supply and repair depots for large submersibles.”
Recent research on hardened missile basing concepts has proven various techniques for creating submarine-sized structures in hard substrates. The Air Force’s development of underground silos, subways, and central commands produced real-world hardware and experience with construction techniques.
In the 1970s, the Los Alamos National Lab investigated an atomic rock-drilling concept called the Nuclear Subterrene, which like Rock-Site, sounds like something out of Johnny Quest, but it also really happened. One wonders what might have happened had the Navy put its nuclear expertise to work drilling holes in the ocean floor.
The Rock-Site concept also bore much in common with NASA’s designs for underground moon bases. Very likely, all three ideas — invulnerable bastions, space outposts, and ocean bases — would have shared solutions to issues ranging from environmental control to crew morale.
Austin foresaw that Rock-Site bases could be ideal for industrial uses such as fossil-fuel production and deep-sea mining. In the decades since Austin’s study, the industry has created the tools need to realize his vision. Though it’s not atomic-powered, the world’s most massive tunnel-boring machine is about to drill a two-mile-long tunnel beneath Seattle wide enough to hold an Ohio-class sub.
One enterprising firm servicing the offshore renewables industry has designed a remote drilling rig for planting monopile anchors on the seafloor, while others are developing entire subsea electrical grids. Consider a physically secure data center, with free cooling, in an industrial park beneath the sea …
Did the Navy ever actually pursue the Rock-Site concept at Point Sur or elsewhere? A 1971 study discussed various methods of sea-floor excavation, but by then, most man-in-the-sea developments were classified. In the absence of information, fantasy takes wingerer, fin — but nearly 50 years later C.F. Austin’s dream remains both sober and dazzlingly novel.
Captain Warned That Crew Wasn't Ready Before Sub Ran Aground, Investigation Shows
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) exits the dry dock on March 22, 2019, at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, following an extended refit period. (Bryan Tomforde/U.S. Navy)
1 Mar 2020
Military.com | By Hope Hodge Seck
A newly released investigation from a submarine mishap in 2015 that caused some $1 million worth of damage shows that an inexperienced crew was given the go-ahead to complete a tricky return-to-port mission in the dark, despite warnings from the commanding officer that they weren't ready.
The Ohio-class submarine Georgia ran aground in the predawn hours of Nov. 25, 2015, the day before Thanksgiving, as it prepared to return to port at Kings Bay, Georgia, to replace a failed towed array sonar. While conducting a scheduled pick-up of a new pilot at Fort Clinch, Florida, near the entrance to St. Marys River, which approaches the base, the sub inadvertently exited the channel, then collided with a buoy amid the crew's efforts to re-orient. The grounding occurred as the team worked to get clear of the buoy, the investigation shows.
Ultimately, the sub was able to return to port to assess mostly cosmetic damages save for the ship's screw propeller, an acoustic tracking device, and an electromagnetic log meter that measured the sub's speed. Georgia was taken into dry dock in December 2015 for assessment and the costly repairs.
The investigation, which was completed in March 2016 but just released to Military.com this month through a public records request, found that the "excessive speed" of the sub as it approached the pilot pick-up made it more difficult for the crew to control the ship and that the tugboat carrying the pilot was positioned poorly, making the maneuver more complex.
Ultimately, though, blame for running aground is laid at the feet of the commanding officer, in the wake of the incident, the commander of Georgia's blue crew, Capt. David Adams was relieved of his post due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command. Like all submarines in its class, Georgia has two identical crews -- a blue and gold -- that alternate manning and patrols.
"His inability to effectively manage the complexity of the situation and failure to respond to the circumstances in a manner sufficient to protect the safety of the ship and crew is beneath my expectations for any CO," an investigation endorsement by Rear Adm. Randy Crites, then-commander of Submarine Group 10, reads.
In his detailed and thorough endorsement of findings, Crites also dismisses the notion that maneuvering in the dark and with a green crew was what led to the sub's disastrous mishap.
"Ultimately, had this crew (and the Pilot) executed the same plan in the same manner during broad daylight, there is nothing in the ship's planning effort, demonstrated seamanship, or response to tripwires that indicates the outcome would be any different," he said.
While coming in for the brunt of the blame, Adams was not alone in being designated for punishment. Crites indicated his intent to take administrative action against the sub's executive officer; chief of the boat; navigation/operations officer; weapons officer, who was the officer of the deck; and assistant navigator. He also said he'd issue non-punitive letters of caution to the commander of Submarine Squadron 16 and his chief of staff and director of operations -- all Navy captains -- for failure to take appropriate action toward a resolution regarding Adams' concerns around the sub's transit into port.
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) exits the dry dock at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, following an extended refit period. Georgia is one of two guided-missile submarines stationed at the base and is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles. (Bryan Tomforde/U.S. Navy)
The 475-page investigation, which includes witness statements, logs, and other supporting documentation, offers insight into what those concerns were. In a Nov. 24 email to the commodore of Squadron 16 marked "confidential," Adams, the Georgia blue crew commander, lays out his qualms about the plan he has been ordered to execute, particularly the predawn return to port for a brief one-day stop with a crew that had spent just three weeks underway together on a new ship.
"CO/XO/NAV has not piloted into Kings Bay in the last 20 years. All of the untoward [incidents] I know of occurred between [St. Marys] and Fort Clinch," he wrote. "My assessment is that this is not a prudent plan for [return to port] ... Having just been at sea for a few weeks, I have not built enough depth. I am concerned about the fatigue level of my command element.
"Given an all-day evolution and subsequent [underway], we will have spent the majority of 36 hours awake and are set to pilot out and submerge on the mid-watch at 0330."
The two-page memo, it appears, was never received and read by Submarine Squadron 16's commodore, Capt. John Spencer. But Adams testified he had relayed the same concerns face-to-face with Spencer days before, on Nov. 22. He also discussed the same issues, he said, in a follow-up phone call.
This much is clear: the plan wasn't called off, and the mission was cleared to proceed. But murky communication dogged the lead-up to the operation, and later the mission itself.
Spencer and others testified that Adams had been given leeway to "slow things down a little" if he felt uncomfortable. Adams said he believed any delay would have been viewed as insubordination.
On the day of the mishap, communication was also flawed, in ways that underscore the crew's unfamiliarity with each other, and possibly the sleep deprivation that had left some members running on just two to three hours of rest.
According to the investigation, as Georgia approached the point at which it was to meet with the tug and pick up the pilot -- the navigation expert who would drive the ship into port -- it became clear that the tug was well west of its expected position. The sub, meanwhile, was approaching too fast and slowing too gradually. The investigation found it was still making 15 knots, or about 17 miles per hour, when it passed the set "all stop" point. That speed and positioning would make every maneuver that followed more risky and difficult.
Initial attempts to communicate with the tug and the pilot aboard via radio were unsuccessful, and the planned transfer happened late. Adams did not want to scrap the transfer and proceed into port without the pilot, the investigation found, because of the challenges of pulling into port without one.
When the sub exited the channel at the west end of the Fort Clinch basin, the crew's communication skills faced a significant test. The assistant navigator recommended to the navigator that the sub goes to "all back emergency," a call the navigator then passed to the bridge. The officer of the deck seemed to agree, but said nothing, the investigation found. Adams, however, overrode the order, believing it would not work, and ordered "all ahead full" instead. He started directing the officer of the deck but did not fully take control of the sub or give direct orders to the helm, the report states.
Despite a series of maneuvers -- right hard rudder, left hard rudder, all ahead full, right hard rudder -- the sub collided with Buoy 23 in the channel. But the worst was still to come.
"When [Adams] asked [the lookout] if the ship hit buoy 23, [the lookout] informed the CO that he did not care about the buoy, but thought the ship was going to run aground on the beach forward of the ship," the investigation states.
As grounding looked imminent, Georgia asked the driver of the C-tractor tugboat if the tug could cross in front of the sub on the starboard, or right, side, and push the bow around. The tug master refused, according to the investigation, worried that the water was too shallow.
The sub ended up, as the lookout put it, "hitting Fort Clinch."
FILE -- In this file photo from July 12, 2018, Gen. John E. Hyten, commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), views the dry dock at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia. The base is home to six of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines that make up the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad and support strategic deterrence. (Eli Buguey/U.S. Navy)
The mishap, and the misgivings that preceded it, came against the backdrop of a Navy grappling with a culture in which overworked and unready crews were regularly put underway in service of operational needs. After two separate deadly destroyer collisions in 2017, service leaders found, among other things, that a "'can-do' culture" had undermined the safety and led to unduly high operational tempo and fatigue.
"The can-do culture becomes a barrier to success only when directed from the top down or when feedback is limited or missed," the Navy's comprehensive review of the destroyer mishaps, released in October 2017, found.
Whether these factors come into play with Georgia is more challenging to say.
In a statement for the investigation, Adams emphasized that he took full responsibility for what had transpired.
"Despite my significant reservation - expressed face-to-face, on the phone, and In emails with staff and leadership ... concerning the risks of proceeding Into Kings Bay In the dark with an inexperienced team, when my requests to delay [return to port] one hour later were denied, I failed in my command responsibilities by driving to achieve mission success at the expense of appropriately acting to mitigate risks to increase our margin of safety," he said.
"In retrospect, I should have loitered at [St. Marys] until I was satisfied that the risks were commensurate with the mission gain."
Reached for comment by Military.com, Adams, who retired in 2016, referred to a public statement he had released at the time of his relief, in which he called the actions that caused the grounding "mine alone."
"I ask that my lapses not be used to denigrate the terrific service of the Sailors and families of GEORGIA BLUE," he said at the time "After thirty years of serving in the world's finest Navy, my only regret is that I will miss sailing with them again to stand against our nation's enemies."
But the fact that some above Adams were also warned offers insight into how the higher command viewed the incident.
Crites faulted Spencer, the Squadron 16 commodore, with "failure to provide his ship a plan with adequate margin to safety, specifically in not providing sufficient guidance and training to his staff that developed the plan in his absence and not aggressively pursuing complete resolution of the ship's requested arrival through personal intervention with the Type Commander staff."
The chief of staff and director of operations for Submarine Group 10, Crites said in the report, had failed to "pursue an acceptable resolution to the concerns they had with the plan for the ship's arrival."
Holly Carey, deputy public affairs officer for Submarine Force Atlantic, declined to say whether all administrative actions recommended by the investigation were carried out.
"What I can tell you is that the Navy is confident that leadership took appropriate corrective actions against several personnel assigned to the squadron and submarine-based on the findings of the investigation," she said.
"Following the investigation, which concluded in 2016, leadership took appropriate accountability measures and has taken all necessary steps to prevent a recurrence in the future. USS Georgia, and her current crew, serve proudly today among the U.S. Submarine Force and has leadership's full confidence to protect the interest of the United States and allies."
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.
John Bud Cunnally ETC (SS) Ret. USN – President
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