Monday, April 15, 2019

Someone's Been Reading The Blog

Apparently, someone in the Navy has been reading this blog.  ComNavOps has long pointed out and lamented the fact that the Navy has become a largely defensive force, existing only to protect itself.  Now, the Navy has finally come to that same realization.

“We’ve spent a lot of time over the past years playing defense,” Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, director of surface warfare, said at the West 2019 conference here. “Waiting for them to come to you, waiting for the missile to come, for the airplane to come. The best defense is a good offense, and the idea that we will go after the threat — at range — is something that we have to be able to do.”

Welcome to the blog, Adm. Boxall.  Of course, you could and should have had this epiphany long ago – all you had to do was be a regular reader of this blog (see, "Offensive Aegis").  Still, better late than never.

The Navy may have also latched onto one of our pet concepts and that is heavy weight torpedoes on surface ships (see, "Surface Ship Torpedoes").  It’s unclear from the statement below whether Adm. Davidson is referencing surface ship torpedo armament or just subs.  Either way, torpedo development is a very worthwhile effort.

Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Phillip Davidson …  added that he is most interested in innovations in heavy-weight torpedo technology which can “provide force-multiplying effects that currently do not exist, including long-range in-port or at-sea attack and shallow water covert mine laying.”

We’ve also harped on the need for more frequent, extensive, and realistic training (see, "Train To Fail") and the Navy may be starting to come around.

The Navy has already instituted new training methods for its submarine commanders to ensure they’re more combat ready, and “we have shifted underway periods to be high-end combat operations. Instead of doing a lot of peacetime, shallow water [maneuvers] and ISR stuff, it’s all about combat.”

Unfortunately, the submarine commanders don’t actually know anything about combat because they’re the ones that have spent their careers “doing a lot of peacetime” stuff because the Navy forgot its reason for being.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction.


(1)Breaking Defense website, “No More ‘Playing Defense’ For US Navy; Offensive Weapons Are The Play”, Paul McLeary, 14-Feb-2019,


  1. If standoff range torpedoes enter the arsenals of the world's powers, I wonder if torpedo nets guarding naval bases might see a reappearance. They seemed to be reasonably effective in WW2 but have completely disappeared afterwards.

    1. Possibly. I wonder if we'll see someone develop a bottom 'crawling'/skimming torpedo (mobile mine) to bypass nets? Seems technologically feasible.

    2. Anti-torpedo torpedoes, something we didn't have in WW2, are another option and would probably allow for better coverage given enough range. Like mines, they could be anchored to the sea floor and activated once a target is identified.

    3. "Anti-torpedo torpedoes, something we didn't have in WW2"

      We don't really have them today, either! The Navy gave up on their system. Are you aware of any anti-torpedo torpedo systems currently in service?

    4. True, but it is a technology that can be perfected provided it doesn't become unaffordable in the process.

      NavalToday had this article about Germany's SeaSpider anti-torpedo torpedo earlier this month. It is not in service, but apparently passed its first sea trials.

      Germany’s SeaSpider anti-torpedo torpedo passes first sea trials

    5. There's always the RBU route but that won't work if the torpedoes are nuclear-tipped.

    6. "True, but it is a technology that can be perfected provided it doesn't become unaffordable in the process.

      … not in service, but apparently passed its first sea trials."

      Based on what little information is available about the test, it appears to have been conducted under ideal conditions, not surprisingly. However, the leap from ideal to real world is one that many weapon systems fail to make. For example, the US anti-torpedo torpedo (ATT) also passed initial tests but failed in the real world when installed on carriers. The real world acoustic conditions (wave noise, carrier props, etc.) resulted in overwhelming numbers of false detections.

      The SeaSpider is intriguing but I'll withhold my enthusiasm until it's undergone a real world test.

      I note that the test took place in 2017. If it was that much of a success, wouldn't someone have pursued it by now, given the enormity of the torpedo threat? The fact that no one has suggests that it may not have been all that successful.

      Still, I'll keep an eye out for news about it.

    7. May end up with Unmanned systems sitting in the mouths of bays and base area's armed with anti torpedo weapons.

  2. I would hope that if we developed large surface combatant torpedoes that we adapt them rapidly to air deployment. Right now the P-8s and other long range air craft can deploy torpedoes, but any such attack is only going to be as effective as the weapon. I know most ideas of antiship from long range aircraft is in the realm of missilery, but having the option to put torpedoes in the water heavy enough to destroy ships would be one more arrow in the quiver.

    1. While not a heavyweight torpedo, the Navy is developing a winged-kit to provide a standoff capability for the Mk 54 torpedo for their Poseiden aircraft.

      Boeing HAAWC for P-8A

      Given the usual size and weight of a heavy torpedo, the Mk 48 is twice the length and 6 times heavier than the Mk 54, its probably not suited for the Poseiden.

  3. Have you seen this one? I'm digging the idea, although we both know the Navy will never do it.


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