All About History of Submarines…(IV)
Before and during World War II, the primary role of the submarine was anti-surface ship warfare. Submarines would attack either on the surface or submerged, using torpedoes or (on the surface) deck guns. They were particularly effective in sinking Allied transatlantic shipping in both World Wars, and in disrupting Japanese supply routes and naval operations in the Pacific in World War II.
Mine-laying submarines were developed in the early part of the 20th century. The facility was used in both World Wars. Submarines were also used for inserting and removing covert agents and military forces, for intelligence gathering, and to rescue aircrew during air attacks on islands, where the airmen would be told of safe places to crash-land so the submarines could rescue them. Submarines could carry cargo through hostile waters or act as supply vessels for other submarines.
Submarines could usually locate and attack other submarines only on the surface, althoughHMS Venturer managed to sink U-864 with a four torpedo spread while both were submerged. The British developed a specialized anti-submarine submarine in WWI, the R class. After WWII, with the development of the homing torpedo, better sonar systems, and nuclear propulsion, submarines also became able to hunt each other effectively.
The development of Submarine-launched ballistic missile and submarine-launched cruise missiles gave submarines a substantial and long-ranged ability to attack both land and sea targets with a variety of weapons ranging from cluster bombs to nuclear weapons.
The primary defense of a submarine lies in its ability to remain concealed in the depths of the ocean. Early submarines could be detected by the sound they made. Water is an excellent conductor of sound (much better than air), and submarines can detect and track comparatively noisy surface ships from long distances. Modern submarines are built with an emphasis on stealth. Advanced propeller designs, extensive sound-reducing insulation, and special machinery allow a submarine to be as quiet as ambient ocean noise, making them difficult to detect. It takes specialized technology to find and attack modern submarines.
Active sonar uses the reflection of sound emitted from the search equipment to detect submarines. It has been used since WWII by surface ships, submarines and aircraft (via dropped buoys and helicopter „dipping” arrays), but it gives away the position of the emitter and is susceptible to counter-measures.
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 recognised 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.