Monday, October 25, 2021

I’ll Take Sub Killing for 500


If you want to bench test an old Cold Warrior, put something like this out;

The Navy has created a new task group on the East Coast to ensure it has ready destroyers that can deploy on short notice to counter the Russian submarine threat in the Atlantic Ocean.
The plan is to take destroyers that have recently completed deployments and are awaiting maintenance availabilities and make them ready for training and operations in the Atlantic. ... The creation of the new task group comes as the Navy has refocused assets and efforts on the Atlantic region due to Russia’s undersea capability. The service formally reestablished U.S. 2nd Fleet, which covers the North Atlantic and East Coast, in 2018 amid concerns over Russian submarines operating in the waters. ... The ships will be based out of Mayport and Norfolk, Va., and the task group is set for full operational capability by June 2022, according to McLane, who noted the ships will still have a post-deployment stand-down so sailors can see family after being out at sea. ... “These will allow us to work with the schedules of not only the surface ships, but the submarines, the P-8 community, and the HSM, [Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic] helicopter detachments so that we can align everybody up to take advantage of whatever training opportunities may exist, as well as tactical development exercises like in the past Black Widow, and then training opportunities like submarine command course operations. We can align those assets to go after these training environments that may exist,” Rear Adm. Brian Davies, the commander of Submarine Group 2, told reporters.
This is not a flip of the switch as there are a lot of “ifs” “buts” and “whens” … but the thinking is sound for reasons our friend Jerry Hendrix outlined in his 2017 report he co-authored on Forgotten Waters.

Jerry and I are about the same age. As East Coast JOs, we spent our ENS and LTjg sea duty saying bye to the last of the Soviet threat before that empire all fell apart. If you are under-50, you have no idea.

We experienced the Reagan build-up at flood tide. If you took a snapshot at the turn of the last decade of the 20th Century, the US Navy was well positioned for high end conflict in the Atlantic Coast. 

We had the entire great circle route from Miami to the GUIK gap covered. If you could keep the Soviet SSN/SSGN out of the open Atlantic, the convoy routes to the northern European ports would be relatively safe.

Surface ASW forces were well distributed and ready to conduct ASW or escort convoys. From south to north, we had Mayport, Charleston, Norfolk, and even a few in New York City (yes, for a brief shining moment, the sanity of strategic homeporting rules) and Newport. Land based active-duty air ASW were in Jacksonville, FL and Brunswick, ME with deployment sites all over the North Atlantic.

That was just on the US side. Canada, UK, France, The Netherlands, and Norway were all punching above their weight in the North Atlantic keeping that a very dangerous place for the submarines of the Red Banner Northern Fleet.

After 30-yrs break, we are not just a smaller force, we are a more scattered and vulnerable force. The incredibly myopic and greed based BRAC process divested the US Navy of the most effective access to the great circle routes to Europe. We evacuated the North. Brunswick gone. New York, and Newport are empty. Even Charleston in the Southeast is empty. Yes, the Russian submarine force is a shadow of what the Soviets were, but it takes a lot more effort to kill a sub than to be a sub.

If you consider the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap the essential barrier, just look at the additional time to get on station. Of course, you won’t do surface ASW at 25 knots, but if you are just looking at nice round number transit speed – all caveats apply – then Newport is the closest to Iceland. A ship based out of New York will take 4.4-hrs more to get there. Norfolk 14.3-hrs more, Charleston 26.4-hrs more, and Mayport 33.4 hrs more.

Indeed, you don’t have to be a genius to see how easy it would be to place a few blocking ships in Mayport and Norfolk – not to mention some even more dramatic events – to effectively degrade the east coast Navy for weeks or even months.

If we desire to deny the Russian submarine force access to the North Atlantic, we need more than a couple of DDG between availabilities … thought I 100% support this solid concept. 

No, we are witness to decades of neglect in ASW in the Atlantic. We have left what capability we do have concentrated and incredibly vulnerable.

Task Group Greyhound is a nice opening for a long conversation.  

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