Submarines: January 2, 2003

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American submariners are scrambling to make sure they maintain a high profile as the navy, and the rest of the U.S. armed forces, undergo what everyone sees as "transformation" to 21st century warfare. U.S. subs already earn their keep because they are the most effective submarine force on the planet. Any nation attacking America at sea will have to deal with seventy nuclear subs and well trained crews. As important as this job is, it doesn't get much attention. So the submariners are looking for additional jobs, particularly jobs that make for more photogenic publicity. Carrying commandos has long been a mission for submarines. There is going to be more emphasis on this sort of thing, particularly with the marines (who want to get more into commando operations.) The submarine crowd is eager to see new, and more capable, versions of the Tomahawk cruise missile. And they make sure each new version is capable of being fired by a submerged submarine. Research proceeds on "UUVs" (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles) for reconnaissance and espionage missions. Over the last decade, the submarine community has grown closer to the intelligence folks. This was encouraged by several Cold War espionage achievements that only became widely known in the last decade. But the inherent problem with submarines is that are actually small warships. Most attack subs have the same displacement as a modern destroyer, but only half the crew. And because of all the special diving equipment, there is even less space inside a sub than a destroyer. Even storing stuff on deck presents special problems for a sub. But despite all these drawbacks, the submariners are determined to keep themselves in the public's eye, no matter what it takes.

 


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