Sunday, 30 December 2012

Submarine: The game changer in modern naval warfare

 The game changer in modern naval warfare


An announcement that India will spend more than $10 billion  to scale up it’s navy’s undersea combat capabilities has sent ripples in the defence industry world over. An existing submarine fleet consisting of just ten Russian Kilo-class, four German HDWs and an Akula-2 nuclear-powered attack submarine leased from Russia,this procurement plan definitely made militaries turn their heads.

 India's indigenously designed and built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines of the Arihant class are expected to be commissioned soon. The lead vessel of the class, INS Arihant, was launched for sea-trials  in Visakhapatnam.  The Navy plans to have six SSBN's in service in near future. These nuclear-powered submarines will be a vital part of the nation's much desired nuclear triad.

 The Indian Navy operates a sizeable fleet of Sindhughosh and Shishumar class submarines. India has started construction of six Scorpène class submarines . These submarines will join the Indian Navy starting from the second half of 2015. India issued a request for information for another six submarines in 2011.
Whether patiently stalking their prey in two World Wars or carrying devastating nuclear missiles as a deterrent in the Cold War, submarines have played an often unseen but crucial role in the conflicts of the 20th century. A concealed military submarine is a real threat, and because of its stealth, can force an enemy navy to waste resources searching large areas of ocean and protecting ships against attack. This advantage was vividly demonstrated in the 1982 Falklands War when the British nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano. After the sinking the Argentine Navy recognized that they had no effective defense against submarine attack, and the Argentine surface fleet withdrew to port for the remainder of the war, though an Argentine submarine remained at sea.

 The first submersible was built in 1620 by Cornelius Drebbel, a Dutchman in the service of James I of England. It was created to the standards of the design outlined by English mathematician William Bourne. It was propelled by means of oars. The first military submarine was the Turtle (1775), a hand-powered acorn-shaped device designed by the American David Bushnell to accommodate a single person. It was the first verified submarine capable of independent underwater operation and movement, and the first to use screws for propulsion. During the American Civil War both sides successfully built working submarines. The Confederate States of America submarines were all designed to attack the Union blockade of Southern ports.

The first submarine not relying on human power for propulsion was the French Plongeur (Diver), launched in 1863, and using compressed air.The first air independent and combustion powered submarine was the Ictineo II, designed by Narcís Monturiol. Launched in Barcelona in 1864, it was originally human-powered, but in 1867 Monturiol invented an air independent engine to power it underwater. The 14 m (46 ft) long craft was designed for a crew of two, performed dives of 30 m (98 ft) and remained underwater for two hours.

 In 1870, the French writer Jules Verne, published the science fiction classic 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, which concerns the adventures of a maverick inventor of the Nautilus, a submarine more advanced than any at the time. An international success, the story encouraged inventors around the world to work towards making such a vehicle a reality. The first mechanically powered series of submarines to be put into service by navies, which included Great Britain, Japan, Russia, and the United States, were the Holland submersibles built by Irish designer John Philip Holland in 1900.[18] Several of each of them were retained in both the Imperial Russian and Japanese Navies during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905.

Military submarines first made a significant impact in World War I. Forces such as the U-boats of Germany saw action in the First Battle of the Atlantic, and were responsible for the sinking of Lusitania, which was sunk as a result of unrestricted submarine warfare and is often cited among the reasons for the entry of the United States into the war.

At the very outbreak of war Germany had only 20 submarines immediately available for combat, although these included vessels of the diesel-engined U-19 class with the range (5,000 miles) and speed (eight knots) to operate effectively around the entire British coast. By contrast the Royal Navy had a total of 74 submarines, though of mixed effectiveness.

 During World War II the submarine force was the most effective anti-ship and anti-submarine weapon in the entire American arsenal. Submarines, though only about 2 percent of the U.S. Navy, destroyed over 30 percent of the Japanese Navy, including 8 aircraft carriers, 1 battleship and 11 cruisers. U.S. submarines also destroyed over 60 percent of the Japanese merchant fleet, crippling Japan's ability to supply its military forces and industrial war effort. Allied submarines in the Pacific War destroyed more Japanese shipping than all other weapons combined. This feat was considerably aided by the Imperial Japanese Navy's failure to provide adequate escort forces for the nation's merchant fleet. The Royal Navy Submarine Service was used primarily in the classic British blockade role. During the Second World War, its major operating areas were around Norway, in the Mediterranean (against the Axis supply routes to North Africa), and in the Far East. In that war, British submarines sank 2 million tons of enemy shipping and 57 major warships, the latter including 35 submarines.Before and during World War II, the primary role of the submarine was anti-surface ship warfare.

 The first launch of a cruise missile (SSM-N-8 Regulus) from a submarine occurred in July 1953 from the deck of USS Tunny, a World War II fleet boat modified to carry this missile with a nuclear warhead. Tunny and her sister boat Barbero were the United States's first nuclear deterrent patrol submarines. They were joined in 1958 by two purpose built Regulus submarines, Grayback, Growler, and, later, by the nuclear powered Halibut.In the 1950s, nuclear power partially replaced diesel-electric propulsion. Equipment was also developed to extract oxygen from sea water. These two innovations gave submarines the ability to remain submerged for weeks or months, and enabled previously impossible voyages such as USS Nautilus' crossing of the North pole beneath the Arctic ice cap in 1958 and the USS Triton's submerged circumnavigation of the world in 1960.

  Most of the naval submarines built since that time in the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia have been powered by nuclear reactors. The limiting factors in submerged endurance for these vessels are food supply and crew morale in the space-limited submarine. In 1959–1960, the first ballistic missile submarines were put into service by both the United States (George Washington class) and the Soviet Union (Hotel class) as part of the Cold War nuclear deterrent strategy.

 In naval warfare, the key is to detect the enemy while avoiding detection. Much time and effort is spent to deny the enemy the chance to detect your forces. A modern submarine is a multi-role platform. It can conduct both overt and covert operations. In peacetime it can act as a deterrent as well as for surveillance operations and information gathering. In wartime a submarine can carry out a number of missions including surveillance and information gathering, communication of data, landing of special operations forces, attack of land targets, protection of task forces and merchant shipping and denial of sea areas to an enemy.

 It has been thirty-five years since INS Khukri sank in the Arabian sea after being torpedoed by a Pakistani submarine. Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla chose to go down with his ship. Indian Submarine arm has since then come a long way. The pioneers of the Indian Submarine Arm underwent training in the UK and in the USSR. When our Navy set up its own Submarine Arm, it was natural that they should start about choosing a badge for the new elite force. Out of a large number of proposals a design was finally chosen that depicted two dolphins with the State emblem, the Ashoka Lions in the middle. It is that worn by all submariners, irrespective of rank.

 The day of the inception of the Indian Navy's Submarine Arm dawned cold and blustery on 8th December 1967, in Riga, USSR. There was a freezing northerly wind and the mercury stood at – 15 degrees Celsius. INS Kalvari entered her homeport of Visakhapatnam for the first time on 6th July 1968. She was received with great fanfare and the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral AK Chatterjee came down to Visakhapatnam to receive her. The then Flag Officer East Coast, Rear Admiral KR Nair, had the distinction of becoming the Navy's first Submarine Operating Authority. And four decades later we have a highly potent submarine arm which spearheads the navy and is a force to reckon.