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View Full Version : Submarines. Are we secure as we think we are?


Sop_Monkey
7th Apr 2014, 17:52
In view of recent sad events, a big question for me at least, has arisen.

If we cant find an object under the sea, that wants to be found by pinging, how on earth are we going to find an enemy submarine that doesn't want to be found? My feeling is a sub can loiter for months undetected outside anyone of our coastal cities, above crush depth. Or years if resupplied. We have all been given a lesson in the uselessness of military radar to pickup unidentified aircraft in various parts of the world.

If we use remote underwater vehicles/platforms that are flooded, crush depth would become a non issue.

Lonewolf_50
7th Apr 2014, 18:03
In view of recent sad events, a big question for me at least, has arisen.

If we cant find an object under the sea, that wants to be found by pinging, how on earth are we going to find an enemy submarine that doesn't want to be found? My feeling is a sub can loiter for months undetected outside anyone of our coastal cities, above crush depth. Or years if resupplied. We have all been given a lesson in the uselessness of military radar to pickup unidentified aircraft in various parts of the world.

If we use remote underwater vehicles/platforms that are flooded, crush depth would become a non issue.
1. Please don't mix messages. The topic you began was about submarines.

With the advent of the Air Independent Propulsion modifications a couple of decades ago, numerous diesel subs can venture further afield with fewer risks of detection (not zero risk) and operate in various coastal waters if handled by a crew of professionals.

The short answer is, submarines remain a lethal problem to solve.

THIS ISN'T ANYTHING NEW!!!!

VP959
7th Apr 2014, 18:10
It's a very good question.

Those of us who've some experience and understanding of ASW will occasionally discreetly admit that it's exceedingly difficult to find something underwater that doesn't want to be found. Back when I was actively engaged in that area, there were far more submarine detections from surface contacts than there ever were from sonar. Despite what you see in films, it really is damned hard to find things underwater.

We used to use the same Dukane locator beacons that flight recorders use as a way of locating practice mines for a while. We'd lay a practice minefield at sea, with each mine placed in a known location and fitted with a Dukane locator, pinging away at 37.5kHz. The mine hunters (with our shiny new kit on board) would try and find these mines (using active high frequency sonar) and would often only find a few in the field.

We'd then go back and recover the practice mines, using the Dukane beacons to help locate them on the sea bed. Even in only 150 to 200ft of water finding the things was difficult. We had two ROVs with beacon detectors, but even then we would frequently have to call on the local RN clearance diving team to come in and find the things using hand held locators.

Sop_Monkey
7th Apr 2014, 18:15
Lone

If I want to drift my thread into a series of questions I will do so whether you like it or not. Whether Putin has a number of submerged platforms sitting off the coasts of the US or not.

If you don't like it, too bad sport. If the mods don't like my thread they can rub it out. If they don't like me they may well rub me out.

Yes I am well aware subs are a lethal weapon. Just calm down the military aggression as a good chap.

Dak Man
7th Apr 2014, 18:24
Is it coincidence that HMS Tireless was reported on scene in the Southern Indian Ocean a few days ago and now we have a possible signal from a 37.5kHz source???????????????

VP959
7th Apr 2014, 18:25
Lonewolf_50 wrote:

With the advent of the Air Independent Propulsion modifications a couple of decades ago, numerous diesel subs can venture further afield with fewer risks of detection (not zero risk) and operate in various coastal waters if handled by a crew of professionals.

The short answer is, submarines remain a lethal problem to solve.

THIS ISN'T ANYTHING NEW!!!!

I recall once looking at the probability of detection of a conventional boat in the North Sea, using only passive sonar. Even back in the 80's, when hunter killers weren't as quiet as they are now, they would have been near-impossible to find in that area, mainly because of the very high low frequency background noise level from shipping and oil rigs.

I recall writing a paper years ago (during the Cold War and our North Sea oil boom) pointing out that it would be very, very easy for a hostile power to have a massive impact on our economy by using a hunter killer to knock out a few of our oil production platforms. It would have been relatively easy to do and there was virtually nothing we could do to prevent it, in terms of the detection and defence technology we had available for use in shallow water.

VP959
7th Apr 2014, 18:31
Is it coincidence that HMS Tireless was reported on scene in the Southern Indian Ocean a few days ago and now we have a possible signal from a 37.5kHz source???????????????

Almost certainly.

37.5kHz is way up the spectrum in terms of noise, even when the Soviets had the infamous problem with their OBOGS exhaust on their highly capable and (otherwise) very quiet boats the noise was only at a couple of kHz. The majority of noise from boats (and that used to try and find them passively) is in the very low frequency end of the spectrum, from a few Hz up to a few hundred Hz.

The Dukane frequency was chosen because the ocean is pretty quiet up at that high frequency. This makes a very low power beacon more likely to be detected, in what is a a pretty noisy environment (by surface standards).

Fox3WheresMyBanana
7th Apr 2014, 18:38
Dak Man - I doubt it ;)
Military Liaison Officer "Why don't you civvy chaps take a look exactly here - ish"

might not be the Brits mind, but somebody's U-boat

airship
7th Apr 2014, 18:53
Sop_Monkey wrote: If we use remote underwater vehicles/platforms that are flooded, crush depth would become a non issue. Good question. Provided that all the electronics, motors etc. were housed correctly and immersed in a suitable "non-conductive" fluid to fill all the voids? Hmmm, what is the "crush-resistance" of a PCB, solder joints and windings of yer average ROV...?! :confused:

VP959
7th Apr 2014, 19:18
Good question. Provided that all the electronics, motors etc. were housed correctly and immersed in a suitable "non-conductive" fluid to fill all the voids? Hmmm, what is the "crush-resistance" of a PCB, solder joints and windings of yer average ROV...?!

Lots of externally mounted boat parts are oil or fluid filled, as are some of the hollow parts of deep-dive ROVs. Not usually to give crush resistance, most often it's just to ensure that internal and external pressures acting on the part are the same (important for things like sonar transducers). The motors of one of our ROVs was oil-filled, mainly to ease the shaft seal friction and reduce the probability of leaks, and I don't recall there being any issue with solder joints, windings etc under pressure.

Dak Man
7th Apr 2014, 19:49
.....maybe "they" were there to drop somethig off..............

Lon More
7th Apr 2014, 20:05
Are we secure as we think we are?

only if you remember to lock the door before going underwater

Sop_Monkey
7th Apr 2014, 20:05
Dak man

Any "dropping off" of significance by both sides would have been done years ago. I'll wage a pension on that.

B Fraser
7th Apr 2014, 20:17
I had the good fortune to share a few beers with a former submariner who is now a BA skipper. Tales were told of sneaking up on a Soviet ship which was trailing a towed array detection system. There was a large pair of pincers mounted on the bow of the British boat so you can work out the rest of the story. I asked just how quiet are our submarines ? The reply was ..... "We can sneak up on a whale and bugger it".

Lonewolf_50
7th Apr 2014, 20:18
Sop Monkey:
We have all been given a lesson in the uselessness of military radar to pickup unidentified aircraft in various parts of the world. Chances are the kit worked fine, the operators maybe not so much. What air search radar dealing with comair (squawking or non squawking) has to do with ASW is about fkucall, unless your attempt at a point was to do with human interface and propensity for error.

Regarding how much improved non-nuclear submarines are, I invite you to do your own research on AIP. Some really good engineering and science involved there. Unmanned vehicles similar to what you mention have been around for a good long time.

In re your OP question:

Are we secure as we think we are?

Not sure what naive state of being "we" are in, nor who "we" are. If you ever thought you were secure from submarines, you were wrong to start with.

Don't hunt them anymore, but when I did, my experiences were similar to those related by VP959.

Sop_Monkey
7th Apr 2014, 20:42
Lonewolf

Thank you for the non aggressive and informative response.

You are dismissed, left!.. right!..left!... right!..

racedo
7th Apr 2014, 20:50
I had the good fortune to share a few beers with a former submariner who is now a BA skipper. Tales were told of sneaking up on a Soviet ship which was trailing a towed array detection system. There was a large pair of pincers mounted on the bow of the British boat so you can work out the rest of the story. I asked just how quiet are our submarines ? The reply was ..... "We can sneak up on a whale and bugger it".

To be fair in same situation were I in Soviet boat and found you, I would allow you to do the same.
Ego a bit bashed but who really won ?
Side who believe they can't be heard or the side who know they can detect but keep stum.

Lonewolf_50
7th Apr 2014, 21:04
The reply was ..... "We can sneak up on a whale and bugger it".
But sadly, no cigarette afterwards. :uhoh:

angels
7th Apr 2014, 21:12
I'll be buggered!

There must be a joke about sperm whales and seamen here.....:eek:

West Coast
7th Apr 2014, 21:46
Long, black and full of seamen? Nah, nothing there, move along...

Sop_Monkey
7th Apr 2014, 22:03
Angles

Would you mind reframing from invitations to introduce smut to MY thread, thank you very much. Farm yard morals and urges aren't required here.

This is a very serious discussion regarding national security.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
7th Apr 2014, 22:07
Submarines. Are we secure as we think we are?

Not since Nimrod was stood down. And not replaced.

Regarding military radars, how do we know:

1) If they (or their operators) were no good, and so saw nothing.

Or

2) They did indeed see an awful lot but not everything. To tell the world what they did see would give away the limit of their capability.

lomapaseo
7th Apr 2014, 22:17
Sop Monkey

This is a very serious discussion regarding national security.

whose side :suspect:

airship
7th Apr 2014, 22:21
The most notable example of this being a small group of terrorists ostensibly operating from a cave in Afghanistan. Who wreked very great havoc in 2001.

racedo
7th Apr 2014, 22:33
Is OP living in the last century? Well organised terrorists have shown that expensive conventional weapons are not necessary, and it is now known that one misguided person can wreke havoc.

Who needs Terrorism when you have Government.
Doing more damage every day.

Noah Zark.
8th Apr 2014, 01:05
Despite the need to try to ascertain the fate of MH370, does anyone think that the ships of various naval forces now deployed in the search area are really going to use their absolute bestist bit of kit so that everyone else will be able to see exactly what kit they have got, and how well (or not) it performs? I don't think so!

VP959
8th Apr 2014, 08:01
Noah Zark wrote:
Despite the need to try to ascertain the fate of MH370, does anyone think that the ships of various naval forces now deployed in the search area are really going to use their absolute bestist bit of kit so that everyone else will be able to see exactly what kit they have got, and how well (or not) it performs? I don't think so!

Unfortunately detecting submarines and detecting wreckage on the sea bed in over 4000m requires totally different technologies. The very best technology for looking at things on the sea bed at this depth is almost certainly in the private sector, not the military (of any state).

The reason is simple. The military threat from stuff on the sea bed is primarily in much shallower water (sea bed mines in shipping lanes, harbours etc). Manned military submarines (of the sort that pose a significant threat to national security) don't operate down at 4000m plus, generally 1000m is probably around the absolute max that "might" be possible. Consequently military sonar systems are specialised for military tasks, and these are primarily low frequency passive (towed arrays and the like) for listening for boats, medium frequency active (for getting a fire control solution and prosecuting an attack) and very high frequency active for sea mine detection. None of these systems are optimised for detecting aircraft wreckage in deep water. The only military assets that might have suitable systems for doing this are the hydrographic survey vessels, which are often a bit behind the curve in terms of technology for this task.

On the other hand, the civil sector does have some really good side scan and similar survey sonars that are exactly what's needed when looking for things on the deep sea bed. The oil industry, and some oceanographic research organisations, for example, have some state of the art hi res sidescan towed systems that can probably work at this depth and give a pretty good resolution. This is the sort of kit that's been used to find wreckage in the past, from imaging ships (like the Titanic) to helping to find the missing Air France flight 447.

onetrack
8th Apr 2014, 09:59
I'm a little puzzled by the OP's question about security from submarines. I thought the whole principle of submarines was to ensure the enemy never felt secure??
Nothing's really changed since submarines were invented - people find ways of tracking enemy submarines - and the submarine people find ways of avoiding being tracked.

VP959's post has nailed it precisely. Comparing submarine and military equipment to civilian sea-floor mapping, exploration, and recovery, is comparing apples to oranges.
Note that the primary equipment involved in the search and recovery here is civilian/oil rig based. The Ocean Shield is primarily an oil rig support vessel, it's just been contracted to the RAN.

The fact that the Chinese have more warships and military assets deployed in the search, than dedicated SAR equipment, only reflects the PLA's major impact on Chinese planning and production, as regards naval assets.

Noah Zark.
8th Apr 2014, 11:01
henry_crun,
Thank you for pointing out the error in my secondary nom de plume. As a matter of fact, no-one has pointed this out before, in the 10 or so years that I have employed this appellation.
Taking that into consideration, and also by sheer chance the fact that once upon a time (regretfully far too long ago now) a rather nice lady from the over-continent once descibed me as 'scrummy' (and we weren't playing rugby!) leaves me minded to leave 'Ich bin ein Prooner' as it stands.
(Not to mention the cost of making any alterations!)

;)

Sop_Monkey
8th Apr 2014, 11:18
Let me put this simply, before we tie ourselves up in knots with too much theory and baffle our each other with science.

What is to stop an enemy from placing armed warheads on the bottom of the ocean off the coasts of our cities? I am sure it can be done if it isn't already done. Therefore it would make most missile protection useless and the Cuban missile crisis look like a picnic compared with what is probably in place already. Is someone able to answer that? In layman's terms, refraining from bogging me and others down with a load of "they can't touch us as we have all the equipment" rubbish.

Sallyann1234
8th Apr 2014, 11:25
Recent news reports indicate that even remote parts of the seabed have been mapped pretty well.
Why can the same technology not show in great detail the very much shallower seabed around our coasts?

tony draper
8th Apr 2014, 11:31
They would be show up on Google Earth two days later,yer cant hide anything these days.
:uhoh:

SLFguy
8th Apr 2014, 13:11
Sop.. I wouldn't worry about it, I'm pretty sure they can't touch us as we have all the equipment.

angels
8th Apr 2014, 13:16
SLFGuy - :E

Alloa Akbar
8th Apr 2014, 13:28
What is to stop an enemy from placing armed warheads on the bottom of the ocean off the coasts of our cities?

What's the frequency Kenneth?

:E

Lonewolf_50
8th Apr 2014, 16:00
MY thread
You started it, but that does not make it yours. Threads tend to take on a life of their own.
In re the following:
Let me put this simply, before we tie ourselves up in knots with too much theory and baffle our each other with science.
The only one who appears to be baffled is the OP of this thread. What is to stop an enemy from placing armed warheads on the bottom of the ocean off the coasts of our cities?
1. The chance of - getting caught
2. Wasting a nuke on an underwater explosion when an airburst or ground burst is a more effective use of the munition.
Other than that, someone may have already done that.
I am sure it can be done if it isn't already done.
Agree with you there. How to detect? A Geiger counter is one means ... do you propose patrols of maritime assets sweeping home waters with radiation detectors? Contact your MP, it might get funded.
Therefore it would make most missile protection useless
No, it would not. There are ample nuclear warheads on missiles to be considered. You have constructed a false dichotomy. It's not a matter of either-or, it is a matter of dealing with BOTH. :eek: The missiles already exist. The risk or threat of littoral sea bed planted nuclear mines being in place is an added problem to, not a replacement problem for, the missile problem.
and the Cuban missile crisis look like a picnic compared with what is probably in place already.
Why do you think it is probably in place? That's a leap of faith based on ... what evidence?

Here's hoping you are not staying up late at night worrying about this. :ok:

West Coast
8th Apr 2014, 16:37
Its reported by many who claim to be in the know that the Soviets left some buckets of sunshine on approach to an Italian port

racedo
8th Apr 2014, 16:48
Despite the need to try to ascertain the fate of MH370, does anyone think that the ships of various naval forces now deployed in the search area are really going to use their absolute bestist bit of kit so that everyone else will be able to see exactly what kit they have got, and how well (or not) it performs? I don't think so!

There is an element within me which thinks US would like to know how good Chinese gear is.

Solid Rust Twotter
8th Apr 2014, 16:58
Its reported by many who claim to be in the know that the Soviets left some buckets of sunshine on approach to an Italian port


Maintenance, upkeep and activation may present a minor problem.

West Coast
8th Apr 2014, 17:17
Perhaps, perhaps not.

As to wanting to know what the other guy's capabilities are, you don't need to face off against a potential foe, just bring the French in. They suck up emissions at red flag like an Irishman sucks up a pint.

Boudreaux Bob
8th Apr 2014, 18:45
Who needs Terrorism when you have Government.
Doing more damage every day.

Especially this current crop of Marxists in the White House!:mad:

Lonewolf_50
8th Apr 2014, 19:59
West, racedo, you need to remember a key difference between our government and terrorists: our government was elected by our people in an electoral process. Terrorists appoint themselves.

Now, can we go back to the OP, or has it been dealt with sufficiently?

angels
8th Apr 2014, 20:16
Lonewolf - it doesn't matter because the OP has got his knickers un-necessarily in a twist.

how on earth are we going to find an enemy submarine that doesn't want to be found? My feeling is a sub can loiter for months undetected outside anyone of our coastal cities, above crush depth.

So what if subs are loitering off Portsmouth, San Diego or Vladivostok? What are you worried about? If someone decides to hit the nuclear button it just means the aforementioned will disappear a tad before the ICBMs arrive over the rest of the land.

It's called MAD for a reason. :*

ex_matelot
8th Apr 2014, 20:24
If one of our (UK) subs, or any other nation's for that matter discovered anything - the likely result would be some other agency "nudged" into checking a certain area to make the discovery.

500N
8th Apr 2014, 20:28
I agree.


I would be interested to know if any of Australia's subs have left port for the area since it is so close.

Solid Rust Twotter
8th Apr 2014, 21:01
That's the thing about subs. They're more effective when no one knows where they are.


I think ours are aground on a pile of empty bean cans in port.:(

VP959
8th Apr 2014, 21:30
sop_monkey wrote:
What is to stop an enemy from placing armed warheads on the bottom of the ocean off the coasts of our cities? I am sure it can be done if it isn't already done. Therefore it would make most missile protection useless and the Cuban missile crisis look like a picnic compared with what is probably in place already. Is someone able to answer that? In layman's terms, refraining from bogging me and others down with a load of "they can't touch us as we have all the equipment" rubbish.

Been done. Back in the eighties we had systems in development (and which were tested on trials) that could deploy remotely activated mines (and torpedoes from sealed submerged launchers) in "friendly" waters. In the event of these "friendly" waters becoming hostile these devices were to be remotely activated, using a coded air dropped sonar canister (which fitted the A size sonobuoy sealed launchers on the MR2) dropped from high (c.35,000ft) altitude.

In the end we cancelled the programme, as it was deemed to be agin international law by being "offensive mining". I'm certain (beyond any doubt) that our enemies at that time had the same technology, and also certain that they tried to deploy it.

These systems are really intensive in terms of using loads of valuable boat time to deploy them initially, plus the (AFAIK) unresolved problem of access for regular maintenance/replacement.

We solved some of the problems (getting the things to work, covertly deploying them from a torpedo tube and relatively covertly activating them from an aircraft launched sonar transmitter) but we didn't get around to solving the maintenance and recovery problem before the programme was cancelled.

racedo
8th Apr 2014, 23:34
West, racedo, you need to remember a key difference between our government and terrorists: our government was elected by our people in an electoral process. Terrorists appoint themselves.

And still Govt manages to do more damage.:ugh:

Don't worry about OP as it lost its way in first 5 posts..............its JB.

Lonewolf_50
9th Apr 2014, 00:01
Governments do some damage, to be sure, but they also do some good.
Can't say the same about terrorist organizations.