All About History of Submarines…(III)
The Imperial Japanese Navy started their submarine service with five Holland Type VII submarines purchased from the Electric Boat Companyin 1904. Japan had the most varied fleet of submarines of World War II; including Kaiten crewed torpedoes, midget submarines (Ko-hyoteki andKairyu), medium-range submarines, purpose-built supply submarines and long-range fleet submarines. They also had submarines with the highest submerged speeds during World War II (I-200-class submarines) and submarines that could carry multiple aircraft (I-400-class submarine). They were also equipped with one of the most advanced torpedoes of the conflict, the oxygen-propelled Type 95.
Nevertheless, despite their technical prowess, Japan had chosen to utilize its submarines for fleet warfare, and consequently were relatively unsuccessful, as warships were fast, maneuverable and well-defended compared to merchant ships. In 1942, a Japanese submarine sank one aircraft carrier, damaged one battleship, and damaged one destroyer (which sank later) from one torpedo salvo; and during the Battle of Midwaywere able to deliver the coup de grace to another fleet aircraft carrier. With the lack of fuel oil and air supremacy, Imperial submarines were not able to sustain those kind of results afterwards. By the end of the war, submarines were instead often used to transport supplies to island garrisons.
The United States Navy used its submarine force to attack both warships and merchant shipping; and 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.
Whereas Japan had the finest submarine torpedoes of the war, the U.S. Navy had the worst: the Mark 14 torpedo that ran ten feet too deep, tipped with a Mk VI exploder that was based on an unimproved version of the Mark V contact exploder but with an additional magnetic exploder, neither of which was reliable. The faulty depth control mechanism of the Mark 14 was corrected in August 1942, but field trials for the exploders were not ordered until mid-1943, when tests in Hawaii and Australia confirmed the flaws. Fully operational Mark 14 torpedoes were not put into service until September 1943. The Mark 15 torpedo used by US surface combatants had the same Mk VI exploder and was not fixed until late 1943. One attempt to correct the problems resulted in a wakeless, electric torpedo being placed in submarine service, but USSTang and Tullibee were lost to self-inflicted hits by these torpedoes.
During World War II, 314 submarines served in the United States Navy, of which nearly 260 were deployed to the Pacific. On December 7, 1941, 111 boats were in commission; 203 submarines from the Gato, Balao, and Tench classes were commissioned during the war. During the war, 52 US submarines were lost to all causes, with 48 lost directly to hostilities; 3,505 sailors were lost, the highest percentage killed in action of any US service arm in World War II. US submarines sank 1,560 enemy vessels, a total tonnage of 5.3 million tons, including 8 aircraft carriers and over 200 warships.
The Royal Navy Submarine Service was primarily used to enforce the classic British blockade role. It therefore chiefly operated in inshore waters and tended to only surface by night.
Its major operating areas were around Norway, the Mediterranean (against the Axis supply routes to North Africa), and in the Far East. Royal Navy submarines operating out of Trincomalee and Australia were a constant threat to Japanese shipping passing through the Malacca Straits.
In the war British submarines sank 2 million tons of enemy shipping and 57 major warships, the latter including 35 submarines. Amongst these is the only instance ever of a submarine sinking another submarine while both were submerged. This occurred when HMS Venturer engaged the U864; the Venturer crew manually computed a successful firing solution against a three-dimensionally manoeveuring target using techniques which became the basis of modern torpedo computer targeting systems. Seventy-four British submarines were lost, half probably tonaval mines, the majority of all losses, (42), being in the Mediterranean.
Diesel-electric submarines need air to run their diesel engines, and so carried very large batteries for submerged operation. The need to recharge the batteries from the diesel engines limited the endurance of the submarine while submerged and required it to surface regularly for extended periods, during which it was especially vulnerable to detection and attack. The snorkel, a pre-war Dutch invention, was used to allow German submarines to run their diesel engines whilst running just under the surface, drawing air through a tube from the surface.
The German Navy also experimented with engines that would use hydrogen peroxide to allow diesel fuel to be used while submerged, but technical difficulties were great. The Allies experimented with a variety of detection systems, including chemical sensors to „smell” the exhaust of submarines.
Cold-war diesel-electric submarines, such as the Oberon class, used batteries to power their electric motors in order to run silently. They recharged the batteries using the diesel engines without ever surfacing.
Modern military submarines…
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 IIfleet 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 Warnuclear deterrent strategy.
While the greater endurance and performance from nuclear reactors makes nuclear submarines better for long-distance missions or the protection of a carrier battle group, their reactor cooling pumps have traditionally made them noisier, and thus easier to detect, than conventional diesel-electric submarines. Diesel-electrics have continued to be produced by both nuclear and non-nuclear powers as they lack this limitation, except when required to run the diesel engine to recharge the ship’s battery. Recent technological advances in sound damping, noise isolation, and cancellation have made nuclear subs quieter and substantially eroded this disadvantage. Though far less capable regarding speed and weapons payload, conventional submarines are also cheaper to build. The introduction of air-independent propulsion boats, conventional diesel-electric submarines with some kind of auxiliary air-independent electricity generator, have led to increased sales of such types of submarines.
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union maintained large submarine fleets that engaged in cat-and-mouse games. The Soviet Union suffered the loss of at least four submarines during this period: K-129 was lost in 1968 (which the CIA attempted to retrieve from the ocean floor with the Howard Hughes-designed ship Glomar Explorer), K-8 in 1970, K-219 in 1986, and Komsomolets in 1989 (which held a depth record among military submarines—1000 m). Many other Soviet subs, such as K-19 (the first Soviet nuclear submarine, and the first Soviet sub to reach the North Pole) were badly damaged by fire or radiation leaks. The US lost two nuclear submarines during this time: USSThresher due to equipment failure during a test dive while at its operational limit, and USS Scorpion due to unknown causes.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Pakistan Navy’s Hangor sank the Indian frigate INS Khukri. This was the first kill by a submarine since World War II, and the only one until the United Kingdom employed nuclear-powered submarines against Argentina in 1982 during theFalklands War. The Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by HMS Conqueror (the first sinking by a nuclear-powered submarine in war). The PNS Ghazi, a Tench-class submarine on loan to Pakistan from the US, was sunk in the Indo-Pakistani War. It was the first submarine casualty since World War II during war time.
More recently, Russia has had three high profile submarine accidents. The Kursk went down with all hands in 2000; the K-159 sank while being towed to a scrapyard in 2003, with nine lives lost; and the Nerpa had an accident with the fire-extinguishing system resulting in twenty deaths in late 2008.
India launched its first locally built nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, on July 26, 2009.
A North Korean submarine’s torpedo allegedly sank a South Korean navy ship on 26 March 2010.
- 1903 – Simon Lake submarine Protector surfaced through ice off Newport, Rhode Island.
- 1930 – USS O-12 operated under ice near Spitsbergen.
- 1937 – Soviet submarine Krasnogvardeyets operated under ice in the Denmark Strait.
- 1941-45 – German U-boats operated under ice from the Barents Sea to the Laptev Sea.
- 1946 – USS Atule used upward-beamed fathometer in Operation Nanook in the Davis Strait.
- 1946-47 – USS Sennet used under-ice SONAR in Operation High Jump in the Antarctic.
- 1947 – USS Boarfish used upward-beamed echo sounder under pack ice in the Chukchi Sea.
- 1948 – USS Carp developed techniques for making vertical ascents and descents through polynyas in the Chukchi Sea.
- 1952 – USS Redfish used an expanded upward-beamed sounder array in the Beaufort Sea.
- 1957 – USS Nautilus reached 87 degrees north near Spitsbergen.
- 3 August 1958 – Nautilus used an inertial navigation system to reach the North Pole.
- 17 March 1959 – USS Skate surfaced through the ice at the north pole.
- 1960 – USS Sargo transited 900 miles (1,400 km) under ice over the shallow (125 to 180 feet/38 to 55 metres deep) Bering-Chukchi shelf.
- 1960 – USS Seadragon transited the Northwest Passage under ice.
- 1962 – Soviet November-class submarine Leninskiy Komsomol reached the north pole.
- 1970 – USS Queenfish carried out an extensive undersea mapping survey of the Siberian continental shelf.
- 1971 – HMS Dreadnought reached the North Pole.
- 6 May 1986 – USS Ray, USS Archerfish and USS Hawkbill meet and surface together at the Geographic North Pole. First multi-submarine surfacing at the Pole.
- 19 May 1987 – HMS Superb joined USS Billfish and USS Sea Devil at the North Pole. The first time British and Americans met at the North Pole.
- March 2007 – USS Alexandria participated in the Joint U.S. Navy/Royal Navy Ice Exercise 2007 (ICEX-2007) in the Arctic Ocean with theTrafalgar-class submarine HMS Tireless.
- March 2009 – USS Annapolis took part in Ice Exercise 2009 to test submarine operability and war-fighting capability in Arctic conditions.