Thursday, January 3, 2019

Multi-National ASW Exercise

Here’s the headline:

“Maritime forces from Japan, UK, US practice submarine hunting in Philippine Sea” (1)

Very nice.  I can envision it.  Ships crisscrossing the ocean, searching for submarines.  Aircraft dropping sensors.  An ASW commander coordinating and directing the overall effort, vectoring multiple ships and aircraft to suspected submarine locations.  The submarines working to evade and attack.  This is what an ASW exercise should be!

Unfortunately, it appears that this is not what the exercise was.  From the Pacific Fleet website article, the participating forces consisted of

  • 1x Japanese helo destroyer
  • 1x Royal Navy Type 23 frigate
  • 1x US submarine
  • 1x P-8 Poseidon

That’s it.

That’s not an exercise, that’s a photo op.

The US Pacific Fleet has a hundred or so ships and several hundred aircraft.  Of those, we assigned one sub and one aircraft to the exercise.  Were the rest too busy to participate?

If someone went to the trouble of organizing this, why not make a significant event?  Even better, why not make it an unannounced, no-notice, come-as-you-are, scramble exercise for multiple squadrons of ships and aircraft and let’s see what our first day of war capabilities look like?

Here’s some phrases from the article:

  • “for the first time”
  • “trilateral exercise”
  • “unprecedented opportunity”
  • “support of a free and open Indo-Pacific"
  • “Working together”
  • “cooperate more effectively at sea.”
  • “exciting opportunity”
  • “improve upon our combined capabilities"
  • “first trilateral exercise of its kind”
  • “shared commitment to enhance maritime cooperation”

Sounds like a ground-breaking, mammoth, multi-national exercise, doesn’t it?    Since when did creative writing become a Navy mission? 

What’s that old saying?  - Don’t talk about, be about it. 

Well, it appears that the Navy is substituting talking for doing.  What was the rest of the Pacific Fleet doing that was more important than ASW combat training?  Seriously, one sub and one aircraft?  Pathetic.  Even worse was bragging about it.  Very disappointing.


(1)Commander, US Pacific Fleet, Ensign Jacob Dirr, 21-Dec-2018,


  1. Just a couple of thoughts:

    It was from Dec 48 hours? Seems a bit fast to do a whole lot of training...why not a week?

    With so few assets, how scripted does it have to be? It's a big area to go out there looking for a SSN with so few it even worth the "training"?

    USN found a LPD and a Burke to go to Chile for humanitarian training but couldn't find a ship or 2 or 3 to train with the Brits and Japanese? Not sure if our priorities are right....

    So is nowadays an ASW task force a helo destroyer and a P-8? Escort task force is an LCS or 2. Maybe a carrier task force is just 1 carrier and 3 escorts now too....scary.

  2. A new idea for ASW.

    Fleet defense will require multiple assets working together, something that is unlikely to succeed without practice!

    For our naval bases like San Diego, Bremerton, and Pearl Harbor, we should turn the tables on the subs and decoy them into ASW ships. Small, DE 1500 ton ships solely dedicated to ASW can work out to 100 miles. Ships could be paired for an active decoy session.

    One decoy and one shooter would entice an enemy sub to launch a torpedo at one ship. While the target ship is dealing with the torpedo via anti torpedo torpedo (ATT) the other ship ship can begin locating the sub.

    A sound recording of a Virginia class sub at 30 knots can be played underwater at 600ft by a towed sonar array for 5 to 6 minutes, just enough time to get an enemy subs attention. The decoy ship would be moving slowly, if at all trying to locate an inbound sub. The shooter would be 8 to 10 miles away and completely silent. Roles can be instantly reversed if a shot is taken at the shooter.

    Also, a surface ship like a 'Burke could be recorded at about 25 knots and played through a hull mounted speaker. Again, about 5 to 6 minutes of playback should be enough. I would not use this method too frequently, perhaps 3 times in 24 hours.

    Calling in coyotes to a decoy is far more efficient than walking around the country-side looking for coyotes.

    If we want to be ready for the next conflict, we need to get some assets and training underway.

    If we are already doing this, I apologize for wasting everyones's time.

  3. Are. But much depended on the force-multiplying capability of the Japanese-US laid ASW SOSUS/IUSS array

    which may be able to easily hear the US submarine's reactor.

    For the array's position see

  4. I think it's an ASW exercise using primarily airborne assets. If it's an all out type, the Japanese would've sent a Hyuga-class instead of Izumo. One phrase that I noticed: "Royal Navy’s expertise and experience". Wasn't the Invincible-class originally designed as an ASW carrier/cruiser? We can clearly see who benefited the most from this exercise.


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