The Navy Isn’t Prepared To Face The Growing Diesel Submarine Threat

The Navy Isn’t Prepared To Face The Growing Diesel Submarine Threat

ighting a diesel submarine is potentially easy, but assuredly difficult.

Don’t care for the contradiction? Too bad! Welcome to anti-submarine warfare, or ASW.

The diesel! It is very interesting to see the media coverage of the diesel submarine threat and how impossible it will be to find air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines. It’s as if we have been thrown back to the dark days of early 1942, when Nazi U-boats began operating off the U.S. East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. One of my favorite alarmist headlines reads:

There is no question that searching for a diesel submarine operating on batteries is very difficult, due to the nature of its signature (or, for the most part, non-signature). I was a sensor operator (SENSO) on S-3 Vikings starting in the mid-1980s, and I spent a lot of time looking for submarines of all kinds. On board a carrier, my Viking squadron’s aircrew chief petty officer loved to remind everyone in our ready room, flashlight in hand, about the challenge we faced as we were about to go into any major submarine-hunting exercise that included diesel boats, which was an extremely rare event. Turning it on, he said: “This is what a diesel sub sounds like.” The silence produced by the device and his comment was deafening.

However, the silence of a diesel submarine is not deafening.