"Design For Undersea Warfare"

The Submarine Force leadership just released an overview of what they see as "commander's guidance to the Submarine Force on maintaining undersea superiority in the 21st century". VADM Richardson expects to introduce it to the Force on Wednesday (the anniversary of the first launch of Polaris from the submerged submarine USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN 598)), but they released this advance look a couple days early.

I haven't had a chance to look at "Design For Undersea Warfare" yet (or it's companion piece, "Undersea Warfighting") because I'm in the middle of my workweek and need to concentrate on making the best memory chips in the world. Until the official rollout, please take a look at the Force leadership's vision and start a discussion in the comments.

Update 1020 20 July: Today's the official "rollout" day of the new initiative, as detailed in the first post of the new COMSUBFOR blog. As I understand it, all the boats not at sea will be sending their CO/XO/COB to meet with the leadership in each submarine homeport to get briefed on the changes this new vision will bring. And word on the street is that there will be changes, with a message flying (possibly today) that will cancel several onerous administrative requirements. I think the highest levels of the Submarine Force leadership are buying into it; the question remains as to what the deskbound Captains, Commanders, and Master Chiefs who will never go to sea more than a day or two at a time in the future will do to support (or hinder) the Admirals' vision. I remember back when ADM Boorda cancelled a large number of admin requirements, and the waterfront inspecting agencies basically ignored the CNO. (True story -- one of the cancelled programs back in 1998 was the Diesel Trend. When my boat had its ORSE in July 1999, I showed the instruction to the team member, who acted like he'd never seen it before, and still reviewed my records. I had kept them up, of course, since I didn't expect the ORSE would ever willingly give up a chance to find another "weakness".) Since some inspecting agencies officially work for the Fleet Commander, hopefully they won't "overrule by board precept" the Sub Force's efforts to move their warfighters away from filling out TPS reports and more towards figuring out better ways to deny the ocean to our adversaries.

It's clear that money will be the biggest driver of the future of the Submarine Force. This article in The Day says that some people are considering foregoing an all-new design for the next generation SSBN, and just putting SLBMs on a Virginia-based hull. I remember them talking about that at EB as a possibility back when the original Virginia was being built next to my boat, and I thought how they'd have to drastically shrink the missiles to fit with the tiny (33'; it's tiny compared to the 40' of the Seawolf-class boat I was on) diameter of the Virginia, even if they did use some sort of turtleback (with concomitant speed penalties for an already slow boat). I suggested back then that they should base the new SSBN on the Seawolf. The design's already proven, the existing missile would fit in with only a small turtleback, and they already know how to cut a Seawolf in half to add a middle section. The only problem would be that you'd end up with an SSBN fleet that was faster than the SSN fleet.

I'll be interested to hear from anybody who finds out which admin programs they'll be cancelling.