Sunday, November 13, 2011

Design Flaw?

By Phil Gardocki
My Navy role was as a ship-to-air missile man. I did not really keep up with the advancements in anti submarine warfare. What I knew was interpreted from World War Two events and Hollywood movies of dealing with subs with limited endurance, usually less than 24 hours, being brought to the surface after a dramatic cat and mouse game.

You can imagine the great excitement when it was announced that our squadron of three ships, the Pharris, the Radford and the King, had run across a Soviet submarine, believed to be a Soviet Foxtrot. We were going to see if we could bring it to the surface. I was only an observer in this evolution, and watched the slow dance of three ships moving counter-clock wise in a slow circle, each ship taking turns actively pinging the waters and tracking the sub in the depths. As the hours went by, our anticipation grew, to be the first to spot boiling waters that would herald the arrival of the ascending ship.

Then, as the days went by, our agitation grew, as sleepless night were spent listening to the high energy squeal of the sonars. On the third day, one of our ships had to break formation, as it was running low on fuel. We knew that we were also only 24 hours from that breakpoint ourselves.

I finally asked myself the question, "How long can it stay down there?" I realized I had the answer and went to my book,  All the World’s Navies.

The answer is 28 days.
Yes, a diesel powered Soviet Sub can stay underwater longer than a United States destroyer can stay above it.

I received a note from someone else involved in this little operation, and this is what he had to say "In 1980 on our way to pick the adm in Rosie roads we caught a foxtrot class sub the Cubans had coming out of Cuba. Ping'd the hell out of them for 5 days. The Radford, King and Pharris. After 3 days the King left due to fuel. We kept pinging them. A P3 Orion caught them on the 6th day surfaced and getting much needed air."  Good to Know.

Soviet Foxtrot Sub Underway.

Same Foxtrot, 2 weeks later.

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