USS Delaware SSN 791 Commissioning Publication

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THE FIRST DEFENDERS OF LIBERTY SET SAIL TO DEFEND THE OCEAN’S DEPTHS Congratulations to the United States Navy on the commissioning of the USS DELAWARE (SSN 791) From the first state in our nation to the eighth and final Virginia Class Block III submarine, we congratulate the crew of the USS Delaware (SSN 791) and the great state they represent. L3Harris proudly provides systems and expertise to the U.S. Navy and our nation’s shipbuilders to deliver this submarine to the fleet.

Use of U.S. DoD visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

CONTENTS Letters......................................................................................................1 Commissioning Committee...............................................................21 Getting the Message Out................................................................... 22 THE NAVY LEAGUE OF THE UNITED STATES By John D. Gresham and Chuck Oldham

Commissioning Sponsors................................................................. 29 Ship’s Sponsor......................................................................................33 DR. JILL BIDEN Second Lady of the United States (2009-2017), Honorary Co-chair, the Biden Foundation

Ship’s CO.............................................................................................. 34 CDR MATTHEW HORTON Commanding Officer PCU Delaware (SSN 791) United States Navy

Ship’s XO...............................................................................................35 LCDR JOSHUA J. HODGE Executive Officer PCU Delaware (SSN 791) United States Navy

Ship’s COB............................................................................................ 36 FTCS(SS/EXW) TRAVIS L. GRAMMER Chief of the Boat PCU Delaware (SSN 791) United States Navy

Ship’s Crest...........................................................................................37 Interview: Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.................................................. 38 Delaware and U.S. Navy History...................................................... 44 By John Riley

USS Delaware Student Art Competition......................................... 50 Namesakes........................................................................................... 54 SIX USS DELAWARES IN NAVAL HISTORY By Chuck Oldham

Virginia-class Submarines................................................................ 58 GETTING MORE CAPABILITY TO THE FLEET FASTER By Edward Lundquist

Submarines at War............................................................................. 68 FROM THE TURTLE TO U-BOATS, NUCLEAR SUBMARINES, AND UNMANNED SYSTEMS By Dwight Jon Zimmerman

Submarine Development................................................................... 86 A SURVEY OF SUBMARINE VISIONARIES AND PIONEERING BOATS By Craig Collins

Plankowners........................................................................................ 99 USS DELAWARE 17


“We believe that the security of our nation and of the people of the world demands a well-balanced, integrated, mobile American defense team, of which a strong Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine are indispensable parts.” – Statement of Policy, Navy League of the United States FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, THE NAVY LEAGUE of the United States has been the keeper of a vital truth, which is encapsulated within the Statement of Policy above. It states that the United States is, first and foremost, a maritime nation and power, and always will be to both its benefit and peril. This simple idea, that without free and open sea lanes for trade and transportation America will be at risk and its basic ideals will be threatened, is pretty powerful stuff for a humble nonprofit organization formed in 1902 at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt. However, given the fact that the 20th century is now called “the American Century,” in great part because of our ability to project power across the oceans and keep most threats at arm’s distance, the Navy League’s point has obvious merit. It was with that spirit that the Navy League came into existence in 1902. Since that time, Roosevelt’s vision has been proven correct time and time again. As the mood of the nation supporting its sea services has ebbed and flowed, the message of the Navy League has remained as constant as the oceans themselves. Quite simply, the reasons for the League’s existence breaks down this way: • To foster and maintain interest in a strong Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine as integral parts of a sound national defense and vital to the freedom of the United States. • To serve as a means of educating and informing the American people with regard to the role of sea power in the nuclear age and the problems involved in maintaining strong defenses in that age. • To improve the understanding, appreciation, and recognition of those who wear the uniforms of our armed forces and to better the conditions under which they live and serve. • To provide support and recognition for the Sea Service Reserve forces in our communities in order that we may continue to have a capable and responsive maritime Reserve community. • To educate and train our youth in the customs and traditions of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marine through the means of an active and vigorous Naval Sea Cadet Corps. So how does the Navy League manage to foster all the above goals? In a word: communications. Few nonprofit organizations have been so effective over such a long period in getting their ideas and messages out, be it through placement of editorials in the mainstream press, or the huge Sea-Air-Space exposition it holds every year in the Washington, D.C. area. Key to this communications effort is its magazine, Seapower, which can be found monthly in the offices of contractors and Members of Congress, as well as on the shelves of libraries and coffee tables of interested citizens. 22 USS DELAWARE

Quite simply, when a particular message about America’s Sea Services needs to get out to the world, the Navy League can get that message heard loud and in a hurry. Helping the Navy League to spread the message of America’s need for sea power are a number of partners, including corporate members and associated organizations such as the Association of Naval Aviation. Other nonprofit organizations like Operation Homefront, Military Spouses’ Career Network, and America Supports You are just a few of the groups that benefit from their association with the Navy League. In addition to its mass media messages, the Navy League also supports long-term educational efforts, like the reading programs of the Chief of Naval Operations, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The support of America’s sea services is a never-ending campaign for the Navy League, and it makes a point of effectively using all the tools at its disposal. The key to the Navy League’s success is found in its membership, which is organized into a series of regional councils across America and overseas. Hampton Roads has the largest collection of military power in the world today, and its council is particularly engaged in serving and promoting the Sea Services. “The Navy League of the United States, Hampton Roads is an organization of professionals dedicated to the mission of serving Sea Service members and educating the civilian community in a strong national defense,” said Jim Monroe, chairman of the board of the Navy League’s Hampton Roads Council. “Our board of directors range from influential community leaders and senior civilians to retired flag officers and senior enlisted service members. They donate their personal time to be a part of this prestigious organization.” From Hampton Roads to Los Alamos, New Mexico, the Navy League councils are organizing events for speakers, placing stories in local media, recognizing outstanding sea service personnel, and making the mission of the U.S. sea services relevant for Americans, no matter how far they are from an ocean or river. Sometimes that message is simply pointing out how much of the local economy is tied to use of the sea lanes to import or export goods in and out of their area, or how even the smallest landlocked congressional district has a significant contractor/employment contribution from the sea services. Other times, the Navy League is in the midst of a national discussion, as it was in the 1970s and 1980s during the battle for what became President Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship Navy. Whatever the question of the day, count on the Navy League being there to make itself known on behalf of those in the sea services who are not allowed a voice of their own.


Audience members listen to remarks during the commissioning ceremony for the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. Ship commissionings are among the most visible activities undertaken by the Navy League.

This last point is vitally important, as active service members are not allowed membership in the Navy League. The Navy League is deeply committed to the fundamental constitutional principle of civilian control over the military and its operations, while helping give the Sea Services and its personnel a voice in the national media and discussions about sea power. Therefore, the organization walks a fine and delicate line, while always promoting the ideals originally set forth by Roosevelt back in 1902. That said, however, the Navy League has now done so for more than 100 years, and clearly has become a cornerstone of any discussion about national defense and sea power. This respect for the Constitution and propriety is one of the reasons politicians, military leaders, and the captains of American industry have no concerns about speaking and appearing at Navy League events like SeaAir-Space. Perhaps the most visible promotion of America’s sea services by the Navy League is its program of sponsoring the commissioning of new vessels into the sea services, such as the commissioning taking place today. “One of our greatest legacies has been the direct support of 28 commissioning events of United States Navy ships,” said Monroe. “Each of these projects can encompass over five years of dedicated, experience-based oversight and support. Commissioning ceremonies highlight a tradition some three centuries old, observed by navies from around the globe. Our own Navy has a rich history of ship commissionings since they began in 1775 with the Alfred, the first ship of the Continental Navy, which was commissioned in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” Federal law, ethics rules, and service regulations heavily limit the Sea Services in what they are allowed to do during

the fitting out and commissioning of new vessels, and the Navy League has made it its mission to help out and finish the job the way it should be done. This is because, in the view of the League, commissionings represent a rare chance in this day and age to allow the public a chance to touch the painted metal of a ship’s hull, and interact with the crew in a way simply not available when the vessel is on cruise or operations. Also, like a newborn child, every ship and its crew deserve a great start to build their own legacy, and the Navy League helps make that possible. The Navy League’s contribution to a ship commissioning begins long before the vessel ever goes into the water, working with the shipbuilders and other contractors, and the Sea Services themselves. “Our journey in working with the Navy to bring PCU Delaware (SSN 791) to life began a few years ago under the leadership of Capt. Brian Hogan,” said Maryellen Baldwin, president and CEO of Navy League Hampton Roads. “His dedication in the early stages of the ship’s history include forming the crew and setting the tone of positive leadership that continues today under the direction of Cmdr. Matt Horton. The demands of commanding this ship are second to none. It requires a commitment to serve and protect our nation under extraordinary circumstances. The sailors who will serve aboard this ship for the next 35 years will do so with the understanding that our nation recognizes the sacrifices that are made every day. We are proud to be part of Navy history.” The roles of the Hampton Roads Council provide an insight into what can be done within the commissioning process itself to promote the mission and messages of the League. Hampton Roads has the largest collection of military power in the world today. USS DELAWARE 23


Right: Ship’s sponsor Dr. Jill Biden performs the traditional honor of breaking a bottle of American sparkling wine across the hull of the submarine Delaware (SSN 791). Also pictured (left to right) are Cmdr. Brian Hogan, the submarine’s then-commanding oficer; Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.; and Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin. Below: The Delaware’s Matron of Honor Leslie Hogan, selected by the ship’s sponsor. Mrs. Hogan is the spouse of the former commanding officer of USS Delaware, Cmdr. Brian Hogan, who is now stationed at the Pentagon working for the secretary of defense. The journey toward the commissioning of a ship takes years, and many service members, contractors, civilians, and family members have a stake in the ship through their hard work and support.

Embedded in the ship enhancements program, as in all Navy League activities, is the containing mission of conveying the need to support the sea services. On board every aircraft carrier since USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) is a special compartment off of the hangar deck called a “tribute room.” Part museum, part exposition, these spaces provide visitors with a chance to learn about the ship’s namesake, and the lineage of the ship’s name in other ships that have borne the name. The last point is carried on in vessels other than aircraft carriers, as was shown several years ago with the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Virginia (SSN 774). The first of a new class of boats for the U.S. Navy, the Virginia had been preceded by a number of other American warships carrying the same name, including a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser, a battleship, and one of the first Civil War ironclads. As part of her commissioning, the Hampton Roads Council made sure that the proud name being attached to SSN 774 was recognized as being part of a distinguished line of American warships named Virginia going back more than a century. This is also the case with the commissioning of USS Delaware (SSN 791), and one measure of the appreciation for the proud history of U.S. Navy ships bearing the name Delaware is that the boat will be commissioned in Wilmington. Support for this commissioning has been particularly strong. “The Navy League, in partnership with the commissioning committee and with the support of Delawareans across the state, successfully raised funds for the USS Delaware commissioning,” said Baldwin. “It is important to note that taxpayer dollars do not fund ship enhancements or activities surrounding the commissioning ceremony, so our heartfelt thanks goes out to so many individuals that have assisted. Please read the committee listing, made up of patriots who have worked tirelessly to make this happen in Wilmington, Delaware. We especially thank Sen. Tom Carper and Mr. John Riley, who both took the

lead on the endeavor to bring this ship to life right in the Port of Wilmington.” Other parts of the commissioning process are specifically geared toward the crew members who have worked hard to take their pre-commissioning units and turn them into commissioned American service vessels. Called “plankowners,” these hard-working young men and women have a special status in the history of a ship, and there are events and presentation items especially for them during the final stages of the commissioning process. For all concerned, the Navy League’s contributions are a USS DELAWARE 25


Right: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith (center) discusses U.S. Navy manning during the Senior Enlisted Panel at the 2019 Sea-Air-Space (SAS) Exposition. The annual exposition, hosted by the Navy League of the United States, brings together key military decision-makers, the U.S. defense industrial base, and private-sector U.S. companies for an innovative, educational, and professional maritime-based event. Below: The crew of the USS Virginia (SSN 774) man the ship during a commissioning ceremony. The first-in-class Virginia was designed for the 21st century, but her sailors were made aware of the ship’s earlier namesakes and the lineage of the name.

critical part of the commission in process, and would be empty events without their special aid. “With 28 commissionings to date, we are proud to support events and ship enhancements. Depending on the size of the ship, one priority is always an endowed scholarship to benefit families of crew members,” said Baldwin. Commissionings, however, are hardly the only ways for councils like Hampton Roads to give sea service personnel the recognition they are so richly due. Programs like “Sailor of the Quarter” and “Sailor of the Year,” give ships, squadrons, and shore-based units a chance to recognize their finest young professionals, and are a vital part of what the Navy League does to support those who go to sea to protect our nation and interests. For more than a century now, the Navy League has kept faith with the sea services and the nation it serves. Even in times when America was not interested or listening, the Navy League has managed to keep its message of sea power’s influence out in the public domain, where it needs to be if the United States is to sustain itself as the

preeminent maritime power in the world. As a nation, the United States owes the Navy League a debt of thanks for its persistence and steadiness, along with the hope that as long as there is a United States, there will be a Navy League. “I am honored to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Navy League of the United States, Hampton Roads,” said Monroe. “The programs and special activities which support the service members of the Sea Services also highlight their work in our local communities and demonstrate the importance of a strong maritime defense. The camaraderie, relationship-building, and the friendships forged over time are priceless. Navy League of the United States, Hampton Roads is an organization worthy of your valuable time and we appreciate continued community support.” To learn more about the Navy League of the United States, obtain membership information, or make a donation, please contact the Navy League at: USS DELAWARE 27

Ship’s Sponsor

DR. JILL BIDEN Second Lady of the United States (2009-2017) Honorary Co-chair, the Biden Foundation

DR. JILL BIDEN IS A LIFELONG educator and served as Second Lady of the United States from 2009–2017. As Dr. Biden often says, being a teacher isn’t just what she does — it’s who she is. She spent over three decades teaching in community colleges, high schools, and a psychiatric hospital for adolescents. She has two master’s degrees — both of which she earned while working and raising a family — and she earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware in January of 2007. Her dissertation focused on maximizing student retention in community colleges. As Second Lady, she worked to underscore the critical role of community colleges in creating the best, most educated workforce in the world. She hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges with President Obama and led the Community College to Career Tour across the country to highlight industry partnerships between community colleges and employers. Today, she continues to teach at a community college in Northern Virginia — a position she held throughout her time in the White House — and is the honorary chair of the College Promise National Advisory Board, leading the effort to make community colleges free for responsible students. As a military mom, Dr. Biden understands the experiences of military families: supporting their service members, feeling incredible pride for their work, and carrying the fear that comes with this sacrifice. In her role as Second Lady, she brought significant attention to the challenges military families face, in part through her and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces initiative to support military families worldwide. Dr. Biden also released a children’s book in 2012 — Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops — about how her family dealt with her son Beau’s deployment to Iraq. Dr. Biden has also been a prominent voice on the rights and welfare of women and girls, especially as related to education. During her White House tenure, she traveled to nearly 40 countries, visiting almost every region of the world.


In 1993, after four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, Dr. Biden started the Biden Breast Health Initiative in Delaware, which has educated more than 10,000 high school girls about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. And after Dr. Biden and former Vice President Joe Biden lost their son Beau to brain cancer in 2015, they helped push for a national commitment to ending cancer as we know it. Today, they continue the mission that started as the White House Cancer Moonshot through the Biden Cancer Initiative to inject a sense of urgency into cancer research and care and to deliver better outcomes for patients. Following their time in the Administration, Dr. Biden and Vice President Biden launched the Biden Foundation, continuing their work to strengthen the middle class, protect women and children against violence, advocate for community colleges, and support military families.


Ship’s CO

CDR MATTHEW HORTON Commanding Officer PCU Delaware (SSN 791) United States Navy

COMMANDER MATTHEW HORTON, A NATIVE OF WEST MONROE, LOUISIANA, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering. Additionally, he holds a Master’s of Science in Engineering Management from the Catholic University of America. Commander Horton’s operational assignments include service in fast attack and ballistic missile submarines. He completed a Western Pacific deployment as a Division Officer in USS Los Angeles (SSN 688), Southern Pacific and Northern Atlantic deployments as Engineer Officer in USS Newport News (SSN 750), and four strategic deterrent patrols as Executive Officer in USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) (GOLD). His shore assignments include assignments as an intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Junior Board Member on the Fleet Forces Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board, and as U.S. Strategic Command Task Force One Four Four Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Operations. Commander Horton’s personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Additionally, he has served on commands that have been awarded the U.S. Strategic Command Omaha Trophy for highest performing strategic platform, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, and multiple Battle Efficiency “E” awards. Commander Horton is married to the former Kelly Prince of Norfolk, Virginia, and they have one daughter, Eloise.


Ship’s XO

LCDR JOSHUA J. HODGE Executive Officer PCU Delaware (SSN 791) United States Navy

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER JOSHUA J. HODGE, A NATIVE OF AMARILLO, TEXAS, enlisted into the Nuclear Officer Propulsion Candidate Program in 2002. In 2004, he completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and earned his commission through Officer Candidate School in 2005. Since commissioning, his sea tours include serving as the Electrical Assistant, Assistant Weapons Officer, and Assistant Engineer on USS Springfield (SSN 761) for two deployments, and Navigator on USS Tennessee (SSBN 734)(GOLD) for five strategic deterrent patrols. His staff assignments include being a policy analyst at Navy International Programs Office and serving as a Personnel Exchange Program Officer as United Kingdom’s Deputy for Submarine Operations. Additionally, LCDR Hodge received an Executive Masters in Business Administration from Naval Postgraduate School and a Masters in Arts in Defense Studies from Kings College London when he attended the United Kingdom’s Joint Advanced Command and Staff College. His decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), and various unit and campaign awards.


Ship’s COB

FTCS(SS/EXW) TRAVIS L. GRAMMER Chief of the Boat PCU Delaware (SSN 791) United States Navy

SENIOR CHIEF PETTY OFFICER TRAVIS L. GRAMMER IS FROM EUDORA, KANSAS – a 1996 graduate at Eudora High School. He reported to Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, in July 1996 and began his career in submarines. He attended Basic Enlisted Submarine School, FT”A,” “C,” “Ops” school, and became a Fire Control Technician in 1997. He has served in a myriad of sea duty assignments, including USS Billfish (SSN 676), USS Minneapolis St. Paul (SSN 708), USS Frank Cable (AS 40), USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705), OSA to Balad, Iraq as the First Sergeant for CJSOAD-AP, and USS Hawaii (SSN 776). His previous shore tours include service as the Sonar and Fire Control shop 67GS LPO at SIMA SSMD later known as SWRMC in San Diego, California, Comsubron Eleven as the Staff Fire Control Technician in San Diego, California, and most recently at Comsubdevron Five as the staff Fire Control Technician in Bangor, Washington. He completed five shipboard deployments to the Western Pacific and two Mediterranean shipboard Deployments in support of multiple operations. He also completed an ICEX and an Eastern Pacific operation. Senior Chief Grammer is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy (Class 200/ Blue) and COB/CMC (Class 207). He has been awarded the Joint Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), and various other personal and unit awards. He is married to Stefanie A. Grant of Bartlett, Illinois and has a son, Wyatt L. Grammer.


USS DELAWARE (SSN 791) Ship’s Crest The hand-drawn theme of the crest represents the simple submarine crests of World War II; a submarine silhouette around a fighting blue hen with a traditional navy blue background. Two dolphins adorn the bottom of the crest, one silver and one gold, which represent the enlisted and officer warfare insignia. The “First Defenders of Liberty” banner is in reference to Delaware being the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Delaware’s official state bird, the blue hen, dates back to the Revolutionary War, when a company of soldiers from Delaware, known for their courage acquired the nickname “Sons of the Blue Hen.” It is said to come from the fighting offspring of a particular hen owned by their captain, John Caldwell, that were famous for winning fights.


The six silver stars that appear to the right and left of the blue hen are representative of the six previous active warships named Delaware.



Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. BORN IN WEST VIRGINIA AND RAISED IN VIRGINIA, Sen. Tom Carper attended the Ohio State University on a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship, graduating in 1968 with a B.A. in economics. He went on to complete five years of service as a naval flight officer, serve three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and continued to serve in the Naval Reserve as a P-3 aircraft mission commander until retiring with the rank of captain in 1991 after 23 years of military service. With the war winding down in Southeast Asia, Carper moved to Delaware in 1973, where he earned his M.B.A. at the University of Delaware. Today, he and his wife of 30 years, Martha, live in Wilmington and are the proud parents of two sons. Carper travels from Wilmington to Washington each day on an Amtrak train. His career in public service began in 1976, when he was elected to the first of three terms as Delaware’s state treasurer. Six years later, he ran for – and was elected – to Delaware’s at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Carper went on to serve five terms as a U.S. congressman, where he earned a reputation as a results-oriented centrist, serving on the House Financial Services Committee, as well as the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, which is now part of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Carper was then elected the 78th governor of Delaware in 1992 and served two terms in that role. As governor, he pursued a common-sense agenda that led to eight balanced budgets, tax cuts in seven of those eight years, and major increases in employment. Carper led the effort to strengthen the state’s “rainy day” fund and boost Delaware’s credit rating

What is the story behind how this submarine came to be named Delaware? Sen. Tom Carper: I spent 23 years of my life as a naval flight officer – active-duty, Reserve, Vietnam veteran – and my job in the Navy was to be a P-3 aircraft mission commander. We tracked mostly Soviet subs all over the world, including many nuclear submarines. We used to try to hunt and track our submarines for training, and they were very hard to find. Submarines have been a part of my life forever, and about seven years ago, Newark, Delaware resident Steve Llanso wrote a letter to the editor of our statewide newspaper, the News Journal, stating that it has been over 100 years since there has been a ship named after Delaware. In the meantime, many other states have had ships, submarines, and aircraft carriers named after them. The letter asked me the question, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about that?” I read that, and I said that maybe that somebody should be our congressional delegation! Then–Congressman 38 USS DELAWARE

Sen. Tom Carper.

to “AAA” for the first time in state history, while helping to overhaul the state’s education system and to implement welfare reform initiatives in Delaware and the nation. During his second term as governor, Carper was selected by his colleagues to serve as vice chairman, then as chairman, of the National Governors Association (NGA). After serving as chairman, he led the NGA’s “Center for Best Practices,” which focused on developing and implementing innovative solutions to policy challenges faced by governors across the nation. On Jan. 3, 2001, Carper stepped down two weeks early to become Delaware’s junior senator. He was reelected in 2006, and with his reelection in November 2012 he has been elected to statewide public office in Delaware 13 times. When Sen. Joe Biden stepped down to become vice president in January 2009, Carper became Delaware’s senior senator. In his time in the U.S. Senate, Carper has worked extensively on reforming our health care system, improving our environment, and ensuring that federal programs are run efficiently and effectively. He is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and a senior member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. During more than 30 years of public service, Carper has worked tirelessly to develop practical solutions to real problems. His ability to work across party lines has earned him a reputation for consensus-building that is unique in to-day’s political climate. The Washington Post’s late David Broder called him “a notably effective and non-partisan leader, admired and trusted on both sides of the aisle.”

John Carney, Sen. Chris Coons, and I said, “Let’s marry our fortunes together and see what we could do!” At the time, the Secretary of the Navy was the former governor of Mississippi, and I am the former governor of Delaware, so he is a friend. So I called him and asked, “Mr. Secretary, it’s been 100 years or more since a ship was named after the state of Delaware. Is there anything we can do about this?” We had a nice conversation about it, and he said, “Let me call you back in three or four months.” Three or four months later, he called me back and said, “I have some good news for you.” I said, “What is that?” He said, “The Navy has decided to go forward with the construction of four brand-new Virginia-class fast-attack submarines in the next four or five years. The first one will be the USS Delaware.” I could have reached through the telephone lines and just hugged him! I was so excited and so pleased. A year or so later, we had a keel-laying ceremony in Newport News, and a couple of months


U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware speaks with Capt. Brian P. Hogan, left, Capt. Martin J. Muckian, middle, commodore of Submarine Squadron Six, and Cmdr. Matthew Horton, right, following a change of command ceremony for the future Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Delaware (SSN 791) held at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, Nov. 8, 2019. During the ceremony, Horton relieved Hogan as commanding officer of Delaware.

after that, we had a christening of the submarine where Jill Biden, America’s former second lady and wife of Vice President Joe Biden, cracked a bottle of champagne on the hull of the ship in front of thousands of people. I thought she was going to break a hole through the ship’s hull, but she didn’t! We had a great ceremony, and the ship has gone on to prepare for its sea trials and get fine-tuned. We’re excited it’s coming to Delaware! You mentioned that it has been more than 100 years since a USS Delaware set sail. How does the success feel getting the USS Delaware named? You know, there have been different ships – small ships, large ships – named Delaware. The last USS Delaware was a battleship that served through World War I and I think it was decommissioned in the early 1920s. Some of the other ships are more modest. When the USS Delaware sails in the ocean and around the world, it will be one of the most modern nuclear submarines in the world. It will carry Mk. 48 torpedoes, which can be used to hunt and, if necessary, destroy enemy submarines. It can be used to target surface vessels, other naval vessels from adversaries if we ever have that kind of conflict. The submarine will carry cruise missiles, which will have a range of over 1,500 miles. It is so accurate that it could put a missile through someone’s front door around the world from that kind of distance. The submarine is built so it could be reconfigured and carry special operations forces to undertake covert missions and all kinds of other missions. It is a highly versatile machine. This is not your grandfather’s submarine! This is the most modern submarine in the world, crewed by about 135 sailors, some of whom have already been to Delaware and we’ve celebrated them in the last couple of years as the ship was being built, or, as you say in the Navy, as the boat was being built.

Do you have a message for the crew aboard the USS Delaware before it sets sail? Welcome to our family, USS Delaware! We love you guys and we want you to feel very much a part of our family and our state. We plan to have students in our schools adopt a sailor and communicate with them. We’ve had parts of the ship’s crew come to our state for different kinds of events, such as visiting our NASCAR track. We have great football at Delaware State University in Dover and the University of Delaware in Newark. There are all kinds of events we have invited them to just to make them feel welcome. We love these guys. They’re just a wonderful group. I thought we were pretty good at what we did in the Navy patrol squadron P-3s, and now P-8 aircraft. But the sailors of our submarine force, they are the cream of the crop. They are just some wonderful people. Noncommissioned officers, commissioned officers, they are just the best. As someone who served on P-3 Orion subhunters, do you have a special appreciation for the capabilities of submarines? My life for 23 years: We tracked Soviet submarines. We would track other submarines from other countries, but mostly our adversary was the Soviets during the Cold War. They were not that hard to find. The Soviets used to have a ballistic missile submarine halfway between the western coast of the U.S. and Hawaii. Each of those submarines would carry anywhere from 12 to 16 missiles. Each missile would have maybe as many as four nuclear warheads. One submarine, one Yankee class, could literally blow away the western half of the United States, so they are very lethal. So we wanted to know where that submarine was all the time. In case the Cold War turned into a “hot war,” we needed to go out and destroy it before it destroyed us. Fortunately, we could find them and we could USS DELAWARE 39

Sen. Tom Carper speaks to U.S. Navy sailors serving aboard Delaware during an event for the boat.

In the seven-plus years since it was announced that this vessel would bear the name USS Delaware, what have been the highlights – such as the keel-laying and the christening – for you along the submarine’s journey to its commissioning? The keel-laying is an old Navy tradition. We actually had hundreds of people in the audience that are part of the crew, part of the crew’s family, the folks who are actually building the submarine. It’s kind of early in the construction process, so let’s get started, let’s get going. It’s more like the beginning of the barn raising, if you will, in olden days. The christening of the submarine – where Jill Biden popped the champagne bottle in a way I will never forget; I was standing very close to her, and the champagne just went everywhere, all over us, and all over her! But she really did her job! That was memorable. The ship’s crew has come to Delaware, and we have been able to welcome them personally. And to see the warmth with which they are embraced by the people of Delaware, when they realize who they are, and what their role is in the defense of our country, is just very uplifting.

get a submarine in those places. And sometimes it’s just not convenient to take them to a state that actually is a coastal state because they may not have the facility to do this kind of thing. As it turns out, my last year as governor, we built the Port of Wilmington, and along the Delaware River we built an auto terminal that sticks out into the Delaware River from the Port of Wilmington. It’s hundreds of feet long, maybe 500 to 600 feet long. Submarines themselves are about 400 feet long. The auto terminal has the capability to seat 5,000 people there. I think when I first raised the possibility to the Secretary of the Navy at the time – Richard Spencer – about a year or so ago about commissioning it at the Port of Wilmington, they weren’t really sure that it would work. When other cities and states have wanted to commission it in their city or state, it sometimes hasn’t worked in the past. The Navy set up a team – a couple of teams – of people to go to the Port of Wilmington to check it out, to look at the auto terminal, see if it would work. They stayed at the hotels in the area where we would be holding the ship’s crew. They came back and they said, “This would be perfect!” And the secretary was nice enough to invite me over to have lunch at the Pentagon maybe six months ago in the latter part of 2019. And he said, “Yeah, we got the report back in and we’re going to have the commissioning ceremony in Delaware at the Port of Wilmington.” I just could not contain myself. I was thrilled. And the people of Delaware, as more of them learn about this, are thrilled too.

The commissioning of the USS Delaware is taking place in Delaware at the Port of Wilmington. Tell us how you came up with the idea to make that happen and how important it is for the ship to be commissioned in the First State. We build our submarines in some different places, a number of them in Newport News, Virginia. But we’ll build some of them up in Connecticut, and a lot of the times when the ships are commissioned, if you have it be named after a city or state in the Midwest, you can’t

What has been your favorite or most memorable interaction with the crew of the USS Delaware so far? We have a couple of great college football schools. One is Delaware State University in Dover, and in the northern part of the state of Delaware, the home of the fighting Blue Hens. I remember being at a football game at the University of Delaware, I think it was two seasons ago, maybe in 2018. The ship’s crew is maybe 125 to 130 people. We had about 25 members of the ship’s crew sitting in the President’s Box at the foot-


track them. We would do training exercises, which would involve our own nuclear submarines. They are very quiet, very difficult to track. In order to have a successful training mission, they would have to carry noisemakers. They were just that good! Even then, they were hard to find. We are really proud of the folks that crew these boats.


Sen. Tom Carper renders a salute as he is welcomed to the change of command ceremony for Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Delaware (SSN 791) at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, Nov. 8, 2019.


ball game, and at halftime, that complement of about 25 sailors, including the commanding officer, myself, and Gov. John Carney, went onto the side of the field after the halftime ceremonies were over. Then we were taken out on the field. It was announced who this was. This was like two years before the commissioning ceremony would take place. Most people in Delaware did not even know that the USS Delaware attack submarine was being built. Anyway, during the break of the game, we were taken out on the field, and the announcer announced who was walking out on the field. They were in uniform, and as the announcement was being read, people started to stand up, and the announcement was maybe 30 seconds or something like that. People all around the stadium, on all sides, started to stand up. The announcement ended, and they continued to stand up and remain standing. I had not seen a standing ovation like that. I’ve never got one like that. But, for the ship and the ship’s crew, it was just unbelievable. I’ve talked to the sailors since then, and they still talk about that moment. That was very special. For them, and for me. What has been the response to the new USS Delaware from Delaware veterans, and from the First State community? There is a great reverence for our veterans in Delaware. We have Dover Air Force Base, a top base in the world, terrific folks at the Delaware National Guard, and military presence from the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. We love them all and they know it. So the idea that we have the most modern nuclear submarine in the world, which we will be able to see for the next 30, 40, or 50 years and have it bear the name Delaware is something that makes us all incredibly proud. It’s not just representing Delaware’s veterans, but really our nation’s veterans.

How has your time in the U.S. Navy affected your public service, and how has it influenced your character and your beliefs? I was trained to be a leader. When I was 10 or 11, I was a Boy Scout, later on a Civil Air Patrol cadet. When I was 14 or 15, I would sit in the left seat of an airplane as a Civil Air Patrol cadet in Roanoke, Virginia. I got the Navy scholarship and became a midshipman at Ohio State for four years. It helped me go to school, and that really helped change my life in wonderful ways. I was a 21-yearold, graduating in commission, and off to Pensacola at the height of the Vietnam War in ’68. And then, about a year or so later, I linked up with my squadron on the West Coast and headed for Southeast Asia, first of three tours. I learned more about leadership in the Navy as a midshipman, as a naval flight officer, on active duty and Reserve duty. There were great leaders and mentors for me, and I think they helped prepare me for the roles I’ve played since then. And the people of Delaware have been kind enough to let me serve as their treasurer, congressman, governor, and senator, so it’s worked out! What can people expect, those who either will attend in person or maybe see a video, at the Port of Wilmington for the commissioning ceremony, and why should they maybe try to attend in person? Well, it’s not every day you have a submarine coming into the Port of Wilmington, so this is a special day that I hope the public, young and old, will want to celebrate. A whole lot of people are going to come during the week that the submarine is in our port, and my hope is that a lot more will come and join us by watching the ceremony online. We’ll have the chance to keep in touch with the submarine and its crew hopefully for years to come. And maybe from time to time they’ll come back and see us, and we’ll show up in great numbers and welcome them home to Delaware. USS DELAWARE 43



Adm. Samuel Francis Du Pont, shown in an 1861 portrait.

William Halsey Spruance also raised his four children in Delaware, two of whom reside in Delaware today – Lea Spruance Beard and Corby Spruance. Sons Jake and Halsey Spruance Jr. live nearby in Pennsylvania, and are active in the Wilmington community. Some history books have confused the lineage, and reported that Adm. Halsey’s daughter married Adm. Spruance’s son. That is not the case, but Halsey’s son-in-law was a distant cousin of Spruance. Descendants of Adm. Husband E. Kimmel also call Delaware home. Four-star Adm. Kimmel was commander-in-chief of the Pacific fleet on Dec. 7, 1941, the “day that


TODAY WE COMMISSION ANOTHER GREAT NAVY vessel bearing the name USS Delaware. This presents a special opportunity to reflect on the significant American naval leaders with connections to the “First State.” Some of these connections, such as those to Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey and Adm. Husband E. Kimmel of World War II fame run deep, while other connections, such as to Adm. John S. McCain and Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, fall more into the line of duty. But it is equally important to recognize that there have been thousands of sailors from Delaware who have served our country with commitment and valor in the past, and many who continue to do so today. On this day we honor and thank them all. On Sept. 7, 2018, I attended the change of command ceremony of the U.S. Navy SEALs at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California. Rear Adm. Timothy Szymanski of Wilmington, Delaware, handed over command of the Navy SEALs to Rear Adm. Collin Green, whose family roots could also be found in Wilmington; like Szymanski, Green’s father graduated from Salesianum School. Szymanski was soon promoted to vice admiral and assumed the position of deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Admirals Szymanski and Green are not the only Wilmington and U.S. Navy connections to the San Diego Bay area. During the Mexican-American War in 1846, Samuel Francis Du Pont, in command of the USS Cyane, led our naval forces during the capture of San Diego. Du Pont would eventually serve as a rear admiral during the Civil War. According to Hagley Museum historian Lucas Clawson, Du Pont is credited with being one of the organizers of the Naval Academy in 1845, and he served two short appointments as superintendent. Du Pont died in June 1865, only months after the surrender of Confederate forces, and was buried in the family cemetery near Wilmington. Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., is named in his honor, and his statue stands at the entrance to Rockford Park in Wilmington. There are few names that resonate through World War II history with greater significance and respect than Adm. William “Bull” Halsey, commander of the South Pacific Area and later Third Fleet, and Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, the hero of the Battle of Midway – considered the turning point of war with Japan. Halsey was the last naval officer to achieve fleet admiral, or five-star, rank. Halsey’s daughter, Margaret, raised her family in Delaware with husband Preston Lea Spruance. Their son


Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey, USN, and Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, USN, aboard the battleship USS New Mexico (BB 40) at Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, April 27, 1945.

will live in infamy.” Kimmel had a distinguished career leading up to Pearl Harbor, but was blamed for the lack of readiness of the fleet. Although it was later discovered that information that would have been vital to the defense of Pearl Harbor was not transmitted to Kimmel, he was subsequently reduced in rank by the Navy to two-star admiral and retired from the service. Kimmel’s son Ned came to Delaware as a DuPont lawyer. He was a Navy veteran of World War II, and worked tirelessly until he died to restore his father’s full rank and reputation. His brother Manning, a Navy submarine commander in World War II, was killed in action in the Philippines. In their book A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family’s Quest for Justice, authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan make a powerful case on behalf of Kimmel. Two World War II naval leaders who came to the defense of Kimmel were “Bull” Halsey and Ray Spruance. Any mention of Pearl Harbor would not be complete without including a comment about the heroics of Delawarean George Welch of Wilmington. While Welch was Army Air Forces rather than Navy, he was one of the few pilots to get airborne on that fateful day and was credited with knocking four Japanese planes out of the sky. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Welch went back to the Pacific after aiding in war bond drives and was credited with many more aerial victories. He would ultimately lose his life serving as a test pilot in 1954. Today his portrait hangs in Legislative Hall in Dover. In one of the most famous scenes of World War II, Lt. Cmdr. William Kitchell, husband of Irene du Pont Carpenter, is seen escorting Gen. Douglas McArthur and Adm.

Chester Nimitz to their positions on the deck of the battleship Missouri to sign the surrender by the Japanese. Kitchell was a trusted aide to Adm. Halsey during the war. Many of his descendants still live in Delaware, including prominent lawyer Laird Stabler III. As we know, the Japanese surrendered after the second atomic bomb was dropped on the country. In addition to being a supplier of various munitions for the Navy, the DuPont Company was one of the major contractors on the Manhattan Project, the extraordinary program that built the bomb. Crawford Greenewalt, who would one day lead the DuPont Company, worked on the project and was present in Chicago during the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear reaction. One of the engineers at the highly secretive Manhattan Project development site in Los Alamos, New Mexico, was Gene DiSabatino, future president of the major Delaware contracting firm bearing the DiSabatino name. In an oral history for the National World War II Museum, DiSabatino explained how he traveled to Tinian Island in the Pacific to assist with the loading of the bomb that would be dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. I became familiar with the past connections of Hercules Incorporated to the Navy while managing public affairs for the company in the early 2000s. Hercules was a major contractor to the Navy in both world wars. In the book Labors of a Modern Hercules by Davis Dyer and David Sicilia, published in 1990, the authors describe the involvement of Hercules researchers in some of the weapons technology of World War II. One of the most important developments in which Hercules played a part was in the development of the radio proximity fuze (VT), which detonated at a specific distance from a target. In describing the impact of the innovation, USS DELAWARE 45


the authors state, “Indeed, at the end of the war, the U. S. Navy rated the radio proximity fuze second only to the atomic bomb as a critical Allied technological advantage.” During the later development of ballistic missile systems for nuclear submarines, Hercules supplied the second-stage rocket motors for the submarine-launched Polaris missiles, and later for the Poseidon missiles. With the splitting of the atom came other uses for atomic energy, both in peaceful and military applications. One military application was the development of reactors for nuclear propulsion in submarines and other naval vessels such as aircraft carriers. While in Navy ROTC at Tufts University, Jack Krol, a future chairman and CEO of DuPont, was ordered to Washington to interview with Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy.” Rickover was famous for his demanding personality, work eth-

ic, and challenging interviews. As he was closing out his questions that day, he asked Krol if he planned to marry. When Krol responded that he did plan to marry, Rickover responded, “Then you can’t come here – married people don’t have time.” To his surprise, Krol nevertheless got a call to join Rickover’s nuclear team, where he spent his Navy years. Delaware U.S. Navy connections continued into the Vietnam War. On Nov. 11, 2018, Gov. John Carney honored posthumously the service of Lt. Cmdr. James J. Connell of Wilmington with the Order of the First State. For his heroic service as a Navy fighter pilot and POW, Connell had been awarded the Navy Cross nearly 50 years ago, but his heroism had only recently come to light in his home state. Connell is believed to have received the highest award for valor of any Delawarean who served during the Vietnam War.

Lt. Cmdr. William J. Kitchell, Adm. William F. Halsey’s flag lieutenant, leads General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (center-left) and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz past senior U.S. officers to take their places for the surrender ceremonies on board USS Missouri (BB 63) in Tokyo Bay, Sept. 2, 1945. Adm. Halsey, Commander, Third Fleet, is behind them. USS DELAWARE 47



Right: Lt. Cmdr. James J. Connell, USN, in March 1965 while serving with VA-55, to which he was assigned when shot down over North Vietnam in July 1966. He was awarded the Navy Cross (posthumously) for heroism while a POW in North Vietnam, as well as the Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. Far right: Lt. Cmdr. Manning M. Kimmel, USN, son of Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, in a photograph taken circa 1943. He was commanding officer of USS Robalo (SS 273) and was lost with her in July 1944. Below: Vice Adm. Tim Szymanski, deputy commander, U.S. Special Operations Command.

During the Vietnam years and after, future governor and U.S. Senator Tom Carper served as a naval flight officer and P-3 aircraft mission commander tracking Russian submarines. He retired after 23 years of Navy service with the rank of captain, and following the death of John McCain, became the last Vietnam veteran serving in the Senate. After decades of chasing Russian subs, Sen. Carper has led the charge to bring a U.S. submarine bearing the Delaware name to the Port of Wilmington.

Another governor in the recent history of the state who served in the Navy was Pete du Pont. Gov. du Pont was commissioned through naval ROTC. In the late 1950s, Lt. du Pont spent three years on duty with the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Navy Seabees. Philip Reese of Wilmington, who has served in numerous community leadership roles, including chairman of the State Board of Pension Trustees, was a trusted aide responsible for command and control communications to Adm. John S. McCain, Jr., commander, United States Pacific Command (CINCPAC) during the later years of the Vietnam War. McCain was the first four-star officer to be the son of a four-star officer (Adm. John S. McCain, Sr.) and he was also the father of the famous senator, presidential candidate, and POW John McCain III. Both McCains spent time in Delaware – John III campaigned here for president and on behalf of Congressman Mike Castle. His father addressed a joint session of the state legislature on June 9, 1971, at the invitation of Gov. Russell Peterson. During McCain’s long captivity in Vietnam, Reese said the senator’s father rarely discussed his son’s situation, even to his closest associates. It is clearly evident that Delaware has had a proud connection to naval history, from the first USS Delaware in the Revolutionary War to the nuclear attack submarine that bears that name today. No doubt there are many more connections and stories about those who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifice who have not made it into this short essay. As Delawareans, those heroes can all take pride in the great warship that is here today – one that will travel the seas for decades to come bearing the name USS Delaware. About the Author John Riley, a native of Wilmington, is the author of Delaware Eyewitness: Behind the Scenes in the First State. He is also a regular contributor to local news website Town Square Delaware ( Don Kirtley and David Ripsom also contributed to this article. USS DELAWARE 49

USS Delaware Student Art Competition Sponsored by the Delaware Department of Education, students from around the state shared their vision of the USS Delaware through art. More than 40 submissions were received, and these winning pieces of artwork were chosen from students in kindergarten through 12th grade.


First place was awarded to Maya Magobet from William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware.


Left: Second place was awarded to Allison Woods from Laurel High School in Laurel, Delaware. Below: Third place was awarded to Sincere Revill from Kuumba Academy in Wilmington, Delaware.


Right: Myly Huynh, a student at William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware, created a watercolor painting that will be gifted to the captain of the USS Delaware. Below: Anna Zimmerman, a student at William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware, created a color pencil drawing that will be given as a gift to U.S. Sen. Tom Carper.


NAMESAKES Six USS Delawares in naval history

THE FIRST USS DELAWARE WAS LAUNCHED in July 1776, the month the fledgling United States declared its independence from Great Britain. Delaware was a 24-gun sailing frigate, and her career in the U.S. Navy was eventful and short. In September 1777, Delaware and several other ships bombarded British shore fortifications being erected after the British capture of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the ship ran aground during an ebb tide, and, helpless, was pummeled by British shore batteries until she was forced to strike her colors. The Royal Navy took her into service for some time before selling her in 1783. Renamed United States, she spent years as a merchant ship and whaler before being sold again. She was converted to a French privateer in 1795, after which she faded from the history books. As an example of shifting alliances in U.S. history, the second USS Delaware served in the U.S. Navy during the Quasi-War with France. Originally built as the merchant ship Hamburgh Packet, she was purchased by the Navy on May 5, 1798. She was 94 feet 9 inches long, displaced 321 tons loaded, and was armed with 16 9-pounder guns and four 6-pounder guns. Her first captain was Capt. Stephen Decatur, Sr., and among those he took to sea with him was his son, Stephen Decatur, Jr., who would become a legend in the U.S. Navy. Between 1798 and 1801, Delaware protected American merchant shipping from French privateers from the coasts of Philadelphia and New York, across the West Indies, and in the waters off Havana, Cuba. On July 7, 1798, Delaware captured the French privateer schooner La Croyable. It was the first capture of any ship by the United States Navy. Delaware took several other prizes, both alone and sailing with the frigate USS United States. She returned to Baltimore and was sold in June 1801. The third USS Delaware was designed and built as a warship. She weighed more than 2,600 tons, was 196 feet long, and had a crew of 820 officers and men. She was armed with 30 long 32-pounder guns, 32 medium 32-pounder guns, and two 32-pounder carronades. Launched in October 1820 in a time of relative peace, she didn’t put to sea until 1828, becoming the flagship of Commodore W. M. Crane in the Mediterranean, returning to be decommissioned in 1830. Recommissioned in 1833, she set sail for the Mediterranean, where she served as flagship for Commodore D. T. Patterson until her return to Hampton Roads, Virginia, again taken out of service until her recommissioning in 1841. Sailing in November 1841 for a tour of duty on the Brazil Station, she was the flagship for Commodore Charles Morris, patrolling the coasts of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina to represent U.S. interests during a time of unrest in those countries. She departed 54 USS DELAWARE

the coast of South America in 1843 to return to the Mediterranean for another cruise before returning to Hampton Roads in 1844 for her final decommissioning. In the final episode of her naval career, she was burned in Norfolk Navy Yard by the Navy on April 20, 1861, just days after the start of the Civil War, to keep her from falling into Confederate hands. While the third Delaware was burned down to the waterline, a fourth rose almost from the ashes. The Virginia Dare, a sidewheel steamer, 161 feet long and displacing 363 tons, was purchased by the U.S. Navy in October 1861 and commissioned as the USS Delaware. This fourth Delaware had a long and eventful career, first in the U.S. Navy and later in the Revenue Cutter Service, one of several services that merged to eventually become the U.S. Coast Guard. With a crew of 65 in U.S. Navy service, she was armed with four

A view of the second USS Delaware, enlarged from a picture on a china bowl depicting her capturing the French privateer La Croyable on July 7, 1798.


By Chuck Oldham


Top: The third USS Delaware, a 74-gun ship of the line, shown in the dry dock of the U.S Navy Yard in Gosport. Above: The fourth USS Delaware shown in her incarnation as a revenue cutter during the last decades of the 19th century. Built for commercial use in 1861, this steamer saw Civil War service as USS Delaware during 1861-1865. She became the Revenue Cutter Delaware in August 1865 and was renamed Louis McLane in 1873.

32-pounder guns and one 12-pounder naval rifle. Powered by a walking beam steam engine driving her sidewheels, she could make 13 knots at full speed. Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Delaware left Philadelphia in December 1861, and in the first two months of 1862 participated in the capture of Roanoke Island from the Confederates, and then helped capture or destroy seven Confederate ships during an attack on Elizabeth City, North Carolina. In March 1862, Delaware helped capture the town of New Bern as well as four Confederate vessels. Between June 1862 and October 1862, Delaware operated in the waters off Virginia, dueling with enemy shore batteries and capturing numerous small vessels, and later cruised the rivers and waters of North Carolina as well as the James and York rivers and Chesapeake Bay until November 1863. After repair and refitting in Baltimore,

Maryland, she returned to the waters of Virginia, performing in a number of roles until the end of the Civil War. Decommissioned on Aug. 5, 1865, she was soon to take on another set of roles. By the end of August 1865, Delaware had been sold to the Department of the Treasury and commissioned as the Revenue Cutter USRC Delaware. Repaired, updated, and modified over the next decade, she was renamed Louis McLane in 1873. She served in the Gulf of Mexico for most of her career, until she was finally decommissioned in 1902. The fifth Delaware existed, under that name, for just 15 months. She began life as the USS Piscataqua, a screw steamer commissioned in October 1867. She was more than 312 feet long, displaced 2,400 tons, and was armed with 20 9-inch smoothbore guns. She served between 1867 and 1869 as flagship on the Asiatic Station. On May 15, 1869, her name was changed to USS Delaware, and she left Singapore under that name in August 1870, only to arrive in New York and be decommissioned in December 1870. The sixth and mightiest of the Delawares was the battleship USS Delaware (BB 28), the lead ship of her class of dreadnoughts. Built by Newport News Shipbuilding, Delaware was more than 518 feet long and displaced 22,400 long tons at full load. She had a crew of 933 officers and men. Powered by 14 coal-fired boilers feeding two triple-expansion steam engines that drove two screws, Delaware was capable of making 21 knots, and was the first battleship in the U.S. Navy able to steam continuously for 24 hours at her top speed. The battleship was armed with 10 12-inch, 45-caliber guns mounted in five twin turrets. She had a secondary battery of 14 5-inch guns mounted in casemates along the hull, as well as a pair of submerged USS DELAWARE 55


Above: The fifth USS Delaware, a screw steamer, shown in Shanghai, China, in 1869. Right: The sixth USS Delaware was the lead ship of a class of dreadnought battleships, shown here around 1911. She participated in World War I and was finally decommissioned in 1923 under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty as more modern battleships were commissioned.

21-inch torpedo tubes. Delaware was commissioned into the U.S. Navy on April 4, 1910. In the ensuing years before World War I, Delaware made goodwill cruises to England and France, and carried out trials and exercises with her battleship division of the Atlantic Fleet. Delaware participated in the Battle of Veracruz and occupation of Veracruz that ensued after the Tampico Affair in Mexico in 1914. After the American entrance into World War I in April 1917, Delaware sailed with Battleship Division (BATDIV) Nine for Great Britain to reinforce the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet. Upon joining the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, BATDIV Nine became the 6th Battle Squadron. For the remainder of the war until the Armistice in 1918, Delaware helped escort merchant convoys and served in

other duties, but was never able to achieve the hopedfor engagement with the German High Seas Fleet. She was attacked twice by a German U-boat, though she managed to evade the torpedoes fired at her. Delaware was overhauled after the war and then returned to her peacetime routine of cruises and training, but in the years after World War I, the United States, Great Britain, and Japan were trying to avoid a costly naval arms race. The three nations signed the Washington Naval Treaty in February 1922. Under its terms, the Delaware and her sister ship, North Dakota, would have to be taken out of service and scrapped once the new battleships USS Colorado and USS West Virginia joined the fleet. Delaware was decommissioned in November 1923 and sold in February 1924 for scrap. USS DELAWARE 57

VIRGINIA-CLASS SUBMARINES Getting more capability to the fleet faster By Edward Lundquist



The latest Virginia-class attack submarine, USS Delaware (SSN 791), conducts Bravo sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean.


AS THE U.S. NAVY EMBARKS ON AN AMBITIOUS EFFORT to grow the size and capability of its fleet, the Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs) continue to be a critical element in the fleet of today and into the future. GROWING THREAT


USS Delaware (SSN 791) transits the Atlantic Ocean after departing Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding division during sea trials in August 2019. Delaware is the 18th Virginia-class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine.

Submarines are a worldwide concern to the U.S. Navy and its allies and partners. According to the website World Atlas, navies around the globe have more than 500 submarines altogether, spread among 38 countries. China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran have about 40 percent of those submarines. According to the South China Morning Post, published in Hong Kong, “Asian Pacific countries are engaged in a submarine arms race, with an estimated 228 full-sized submarines operating in the East and South China Seas — a number that is expected to rise to 300 within a decade.” The 2018 National Defense Strategy emphasizes building a more lethal force, particularly to counter Chinese and Russian threats, so submarines are and will remain in high demand. SSNs are an extremely effective weapon against other submarines; with their intelligence, tracking, and targeting capability they are critical assets in the battle force. And the need for a capable attack submarine fleet to counter increasing numbers of potential adversaries operating submarines is growing. At a Department of Defense press briefing on the president’s fiscal year 2020 defense budget for the Navy last March, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. Randy Crites talked about the importance of procuring highly capable platforms such as the Virginia-class SSNs in this era of great power competition. “We know that both Russia and China are fielding high-end military capabilities, and frankly, ideologies

that are incompatible with the rules-based international order,” Crites said. “The competition is clearly on.” Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Phil Davidson, would agree. “My day-to-day requirement is met by slightly over 50 percent of what I’ve asked for,” Davidson said in reference to his requests for submarines to be assigned to his part of the world. Only a few years ago, the Navy was growing its fleet to 308 ships. Today there are 295 deployable battle force ships. The December 2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA) called for 355 ships, and that includes more attack submarines – 18 of them above the current plan. According to a February 2020 report from the Congressional Research Service, the Navy’s force-level goal for SSNs is to achieve and maintain a force of 66 boats. The Navy’s SSN force included 50 boats at the end of FY2019, including Los Angeles (SSN 688) class boats; Seawolf (SSN 21) class boats; and Virginia (SSN 774) class boats. While more submarines would be welcomed by the combatant commanders and industry alike, the Navy will be challenged by funding, the industrial capacity to increase construction, and the ability to recruit and train more qualified officers and sailors. The Virginia class traces its origins to the 1991 “Centurion” study, which sought to develop a less-expensive alternative to the Cold War-era Seawolf class, of which just three were built. The Centurion became known as the New Attack Submarine, and then the Virginia class. Many new techniques were used to design and build the Virginias, including computer-aided design (CAD) and the use of commercial off the shelf components instead of more costly “MILSPEC” equipment. Computer processing capability was evolving at a rapid pace because of a thriving civilian market hungry to get the latest and best personal computer or laptop. Instead of developing Navy-unique technology



GROWING COLLABORATION Only two U.S. shipyards build nuclear-powered submarines for the U.S. Navy. 62 USS DELAWARE

Above: The Virginia-class submarine USS Indiana shows its 377-foot length during sea trials. Virginia-class submarines are capable of speeds in excess of 25 knots while submerged. Left: The commander and executive officer of USS Colorado (SSN 788) stand in the boat’s sail next to the submarine’s sensor masts. Virginia-class submarines have AN/BVS-1 fiber-optic photonics masts located outside the pressure hull instead of the traditional periscope. Each of the two masts contains high-resolution cameras, light-intensification systems, infrared laser rangefinders, and an integrated electronic support measures (ESM) array.


for what would be a very small market, the Navy decided to take advantage of constantly improving commercial technology. The Virginia-class submarines can be categorized in blocks. The first four ships (SSNs 774 – 777) are Block I. The second, Block II, group of six submarines (SSNs 778 - 783) incorporated improved modular construction techniques to reduce the time required to build them. These first ten boats proved out the class design and construction techniques. The eight Block III boats (SSNs 784 – 791) have a redesigned bow for a new sonar array and the Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), which replace the 12 single-purpose vertical launch system (VLS) missile tubes in the bow section; the two large-diameter VPTs are each capable of launching six Tomahawk missiles utilizing the same Multiple All-Up-Round Canisters (MACs) currently used on the Navy’s four guided-missile submarines (SSGNs). Beginning with SSN 792, the following 10 Block IV submarines include the changes of Block III and take advantage of a Navy and industry effort to reduce operations and sustainment costs called Reduced Total Ownership Cost (RTOC). Beginning with the second Block V submarine, an extended hull adds the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) with four additional payload sized tubes that will dramatically increase the number of weapons carried. Power for these submarines comes from a S9G pressurized water reactor (PWR) style nuclear reactor, which provides 40,000 shaft horsepower to drive the boat at speeds up to and greater than 25 knots.


USS Colorado (SSN 788) sits pierside prior to commissioning March 17, 2018, with the hatches of the Virginia Payload Tubes (VPT) open. Instead of the 12 single-purpose vertical launch system tubes in earlier Virginia-class submarines, the later blocks’ VPTs can each carry six Tomahawk missiles as well as future payloads like unmanned vehicles.

Virginia-class boats are built jointly by General Dynamics Electric Boat Division (GD/EB) of Groton, Connecticut, and Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding (HII/ NNS), of Newport News, Virginia. Both shipyards have been building submarines for decades. The arrangement keeps both shipyards viable and preserves their submarine design and construction skills and expertise. Each boat is made up or parts from each shipyard, such as hull sections and the reactor compartments, and the builders alternate the final assembly of the boats. While the Virginia class began in the 1990s, it will be closely tied with the newest submarine program, the Columbia class of ballistic missile submarines, which will replace the current Ohio class of strategic deterrent submarines. While the Columbia and Virginia classes span different generations and have different missions, the Navy’s Submarine Unified Build Strategy (SUBS) acknowledges the benefits of finding commonality in both submarine programs to ensure executability and enable affordability during the planned ramp-up in submarine production at the two shipyards and the respective supplier base. The first four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) were converted to nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines (SSGNs) to carry up to 154 conventional cruise missiles, primarily Tomahawk land-attack missiles (TLAMs). This greatly improved the Navy’s striking capability. But these ships will begin decommissioning in the

late 2020s, leaving a gap in TLAM capability. The 28 additional missiles carried in each of the VPM-configured ships help address that shortfall. The first Virginia-class SSN was commissioned in 2004. The first Columbia-class SSBN isn’t expected to join the fleet until 2030, and commence its first strategic deterrent patrol in 2031. Much of the Columbia program will leverage technology developed for the continually evolving attack submarine program. Meanwhile, the Navy and its industry partners have been steadily working on building the Virginia class more efficiently and effectively. GROWING CAPABILITY Ramping up from 308 ships to a fleet of 355 requires the Navy to leverage existing designs instead of taking the time and expense to design new ship classes. In the case of the Virginia class, there has been a steady improvement in capability while cost and schedule have improved. Having the latest and greatest model usually means that it will be more expensive, too. However, the successive iterations of the Virginia class are being built faster, with higher quality, and actually cost less over the total life of the ship. The evolution of the Virginia class has also resulted in progressively more capable submarines. The submarines through the Block IV boats have the same USS DELAWARE 63


Above: An artist’s rendering of a future Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. The 12 submarines of the Columbia class are a shipbuilding priority and will replace the Ohio-class submarines that are reaching maximum extended service life. The Navy’s Submarine Unified Build Strategy (SUBS) leverages commonality in the Virginia-class and Columbia-class programs to boost affordability and executability of the new SSBN. Left: The bow units of Washington (SSN 787) and Colorado (SSN 788) fill one side of the Supplemental Modular Outfitting Facility (SMOF) at Newport News Shipbuilding. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat have been sharing in the construction of the Virginia-class submarines.

dimensions. Replacing the 12 single-purpose small diameter VLS missile tubes in the bow section with the simpler two large-diameter VPTs, allows for larger future payloads such as unmanned vehicles. As with all U.S. Navy submarines, the Virginia class are also armed with Mk. 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) torpedoes. The Block V boats’ 84-foot-long VPM will add four additional payload sized tubes into the body of the ship. The VPM tubes will be located inside the

pressure hull, making them accessible for inspection, maintenance, or alterations. TLAM capacity is the primary driver right now for VPM, however the Navy is also looking at other weapons to be carried on the SSNs, such as longer-range anti-ship weapons or an extended-range torpedo. The RTOC approach taken starting with the Block IV submarines offers multiple benefits over the life of the ship. Not only has Virginia class construction time been reduced, but less time is required to find problems during the “shakedown period” and to fix them during the “post shakedown availability” or PSA. That means the latest combat system can be installed during construction, making these boats ready for mission-tasking immediately at delivery. GROWING THE FLEET The Navy is getting capability to the fleet faster while saving money by employing multi-year block-buy conUSS DELAWARE 65


Above: The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) surfaces through the arctic ice during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2014. ICEX 2014 was a U.S. Navy exercise highlighting submarine capabilities in an arctic environment. The Navy today is working to procure enough submarines to defend against near-peer adversaries whose submarine fleets are growing in numbers and capability. Left: Machinist Mate (Weapons) 3rd Class Dennis J. Capello, front, conducts a system status check on a weapons launch console, while Information Systems Technician (Submarines) 3rd Class Austin J. Killough, back, conducts a systems safety check aboard USS Colorado (SSN 788) in 2018. Virginia-class submarines have grown in capability even as costs have been reduced with each block of builds.

tracts. In 2014, the Navy ordered the 10 Block IV boats in a $17.6 billion “block buy,” up to then the largest shipbuilding contract in U.S. Navy history in terms of total dollar value. More recently, the Navy awarded an even larger nine ship $22.2 billion contract in December 2019 for nine Virginia-class attack submarines (with an option for a tenth), eight of which will have a VPM. “The Block V contract balances the right mix of undersea quantity and capability with a profile that continues to

stabilize the industrial base. This balance and stability will enable the success of submarine acquisitions across the enterprise,” said Virginia Class Program Manager Capt. Christopher Hanson. “Our warfighters, the Navy, and the nation will benefit greatly from the new capabilities that the Block V submarines will bring to the fleet.” Construction continues to go well in the Virginia program, with ships being delivered within the contracted budget. Construction of the prototype VPM tubes has begun, and construction of the first Block V boat began in FY 19. “Block V Virginias and Virginia Payload Module are a generational leap in submarine capability for the Navy,” said Program Executive Officer for Submarines Rear Adm. David Goggins. “These design changes will enable the fleet to maintain our nation’s undersea dominance.” USS DELAWARE 67

SUBMARINES AT WAR From the Turtle to U-boats, nuclear submarines, and unmanned systems By Dwight Jon Zimmerman

– being the mother of invention, the Confederate government encouraged any proposal that offered credible hope of breaking the blockade. One such response was the CSS H. L. Hunley, named after one of its main financial contributors and designers. The cigar-shaped craft, fashioned from a converted boiler, was 5 feet in diameter and powered by a crew that rotated hand cranks attached to a drive shaft. On the night of Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley embarked on its first mission. Slipping out into the dark water of Charleston Harbor, the Hunley’s orders were to lodge into the hull of an enemy ship a torpedo (mine) mounted at the end of a 15-foot spar protruding from the Hunley’s bow. After it had been attached, the Hunley would detach from the torpedo and, as it backed away, its skipper, Lt. George Dixon, would pull a rope trigger, detonating the explosive. The Hunley’s victim that night was the wooden-hulled USS Housatonic. The Hunley successfully buried the torpedo in the Housatonic’s hull, detonated the torpedo, and

Below: Drawing of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley. A small hand-powered submarine, Hunley was built privately at Mobile, Alabama, in 1863, based on plans furnished by Horace Lawson Hunley, James R. McClintock, and Baxter Watson. On Feb. 17, 1864, she sank USS Housatonic by detonating a spar torpedo against her side, but was also sunk herself.


FOR CENTURIES, A NATION’S MARITIME MIGHT was defined by its surface navy, with the battleship being the epitome of gunship supremacy. The battleship’s surface suzerainty ended in the 20th century, supplanted in the air by aircraft carriers and underwater by submarines. The submarine’s potential as a weapon of war was first demonstrated during the American Revolution in 1776 by David Bushnell, who invented the Turtle. His clam-shaped, man-powered submersible would sneak up to an unsuspecting enemy ship, attach an explosive charge, and escape before the explosive detonated. Bushnell’s Turtle was put to the test the night of Sept. 6, 1776. The quarry was the British man-o’-war, HMS Eagle, docked in New York Harbor. The captain, crew, and power plant performed in a precedent-establishing harmony of purpose as the Turtle made its way toward its anchored target. Not only did all work as one, they were one: Sgt. Ezra Lee. With head, hands, arms, legs, and feet in near-constant motion as he operated his boat, Lee reached the Eagle and attempted to attach his torpedo. His effort failed, and he was forced to retreat, his mission unfulfilled. Two other Turtle missions were also unsuccessful. Even so, the Turtle had demonstrated that attacks by a submersible were possible. The next significant event in the combat history of submarines occurred during the American Civil War. The Union blockade of Confederate ports – the Anaconda Plan – was having its effect in preventing supplies from reaching Confederate ports. Necessity – in this case survival



The former German submarine UB-148 at sea, after having been surrendered to the United States. World War I showed how effective U-boats could be against a maritime nation, a lesson taken to heart and applied against the Allies in World War II.



Sinking of the Linda Blanche out of Liverpool, a painting by Willy Stöwer, depicts the attack by U-boat U-21 on the Linda Blanche during World War I. The Linda Blanche was sunk on Jan. 30, 1915, after allowing all crew and passengers to disembark, a practice that fell by the wayside as the war progressed.

sank the ship. But the Hunley did not survive its history-making mission. For reasons unknown, the Hunley sank with all hands soon after its victim. Though spectacular historically, strategically the sinkings were non-factors regarding the war’s outcome. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, submarines reached maturity as a strategic weapon of war. Though all the major world powers possessed submarines in 1914, the story of World War I submarine operations is dominated by Germany’s U-boats, which came close to single-handedly knocking Great Britain out of the war – a remarkable achievement, because Germany had only 20 operational U-boats in 1914. Their effectiveness was dramatically demonstrated on Sept. 22, 1914, less than two months after the start of the war. Kapitänleutnant Otto Weddigen in the U-9 attacked and sank three British cruisers, the Aboukir, Hogue, and Cressy. The action made Weddigen a hero, with the Kaiser awarding him the Pour le Mérite, Germany’s highest military decoration. The sinkings stunned the British. One commentator wrote, “What wonder that men the world over began to predict the abandonment even of the dreadnoughts, for all their weight of armor on their sides will avail them not a whit against attack from below. … [T]he submarine, and its scarcely less sinister coadjutor, the airship, may put an end to the … floating forts of steel which the Powers have been building.” Though battleships would still be constructed, the torch of naval power had been passed to the relatively small submarine. U-boat operations were notable for their on-again, offagain adherence to rules of engagement (ROE) originally

specified in the Declaration of Paris in 1856. The ROE detailed the procedure under which a merchant vessel flying a belligerent’s flag could be sunk. Essentially the attacker had to deliver fair warning of its intent and then allow the vessel’s crew sufficient time to board life rafts and clear the ship. Only then could the warship sink it. Merchant ships under a neutral flag, even if they carried munitions for one of the belligerent powers, were exempt from attack. Numerous diplomatic efforts were made to address the changes and developments in ships, weaponry, and technology, the last being the Declaration of London in 1909, which ended in failure. One reason was presciently observed by Baron Marschall von Bieberstein of the German delegation who noted the conference should not adopt rules “whose strict observance may be rendered impossible by the force of circumstances.” The “force of circumstances” became tragic reality on May 7, 1915, when the British passenger liner Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the U-20. The fact that British registry had it listed as an armed merchant cruiser and that it was carrying rifle ammunition for the Allies was lost in the outrage felt in the then-neutral United States upon news that 128 American citizens lost their lives in the attack. Crisis diplomatic maneuvering between the American and German governments temporarily suspended U-boat operations and successfully forestalled America’s entry into the war that year. Meanwhile, British submarines were making their mark. One British submarine hero was Max Horton, commander of the E-9, whose success in sinking iron ore ships transiting between Sweden and Germany caused the Baltic to be USS DELAWARE 71


Above left: Submarine E9 alongside at Reval, 1915, commanded by then-Lt. Cmdr. Max Horton. Horton’s success while commanding E9 was such that the Baltic was for a time referred to as “Horton’s Sea.” He also began the tradition of submarines flying the Jolly Roger flag upon returning from successful patrols. Above: U-278, a Type VIIC German U-boat, photographed from a long-range Liberator bomber during World War II. U-278 survived World War II, unlike so many other U-boats.


submarine design and development continued. When World War II began in 1939, Dönitz was the commanding officer of U-boat fleet that was composed of 22 boats suitable for operations in the Atlantic – only two more than the Kaiser’s fleet in 1914 and far below the estimated 300 a Kriegsmarine study projected were necessary to defeat Great Britain. But Dönitz was unable to wait for more of the Type VII and Type IX U-boats to arrive. Dönitz gave one of his promising commanders, Günter Prien of U-47, a mission designed to spectacularly challenge the might of the Royal Navy. On the night of Oct. 12-13, 1939, less than a month and a half after the start of the war, Prien and the U-47 entered the Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow and sank the battleship Royal Oak. Prien and the U-47 returned to a hero’s welcome. The Battle of the Atlantic had begun in earnest. Another U-boat captain was Otto Kretschmer, whose successes early in the war also marked him for distinction. His success, though, was achieved despite a consistent failure of his torpedoes. During one six-month period that included 97 days at sea, Kretschmer’s U-23 fired 23 torpedoes, but 15 of them failed. Kretschmer’s frustration became so great that after capturing a supply ship and forcing the crew to evacuate, he conducted torpedo target practice in order to determine the cause of failure. He reported that “the magnetic firing mechanism had to be reset every time we entered a new zone.” Dönitz quickly supplied his U-boats with reliable torpedoes. The fall of France in June 1940 ushered in a period of the war in the Atlantic the U-boat force called the “Happy Time.” Now with bases extending from the Bay of Biscay to above the Arctic Circle, the U-boats could, and did, range at will. The top three U-boat skippers, Prien, Kretschmer, and Joachim Schepke, would lead the way in tallying 1,395,298 tons of shipping sunk, amounting to an average of three freighters or tankers sunk per day. All this was accomplished by only 11 to 13 U-boats. It was a damning indictment at how


temporarily renamed “Horton’s Sea.” And, during the otherwise ill-fated Dardanelles campaign, exploits in the Sea of Marmara by Martin Naismith of the E-11, which included the sinking of a transport in the harbor of Constantinople, made him a legend. Germany’s greatest U-boat captain was arguably Lothar von Arnauld de la Periére. In one four-week patrol in the summer of 1916 in the Mediterranean Sea, Arnauld’s U-35 sank 54 ships totaling 91,150 tons. What was unusual was that he used only four torpedoes – most of the ships were sunk by his deck gun. Arnaud, awarded the Pour le Mérite, would end the war as Germany’s submarine ace of aces with 194 ships sunk, totaling more than 450,000 tons. In the final months of the war, a young U-boat officer proposed a new method of submarine operations, one that would have squadrons of U-boats launch coordinated attacks instead of independent, solo strikes. But Oberleutnant zur See Karl Dönitz in the U-68 was captured before he could test his concept. Meanwhile, the United States had done little to prepare itself for possible entry into the conflict. So it was that its submarine force, like every other part of the military, was inadequate to the task demanded when America declared war on Germany in 1917. The U.S. Navy’s submarines had a negligible presence in World War I. When World War I ended in 1918, the Central Powers had built a total of 375 U-boats. They had sunk more than 7,600 ships totaling more than 15 million tons. More than half the vessels sunk were British. Estimates predicted that if Germany had been able to deploy even 50 more U-boats, she would have won the war. Little wonder then that in the following years, Great Britain advocated the abolition of submarines and, when that failed, their strict regulation. Despite a sincere belief that World War I was the “war to end all wars” and budget constraints caused by the worldwide economic collapse of the Great Depression,


USS Wahoo (SS 238) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, July 14, 1943.

ill-prepared the British admiralty was. Even the adoption of the convoy system provided little help during this period, for anti-submarine warfare escort construction had been ignored. Dönitz believed that Germany could win the war if his U-boats, working with Luftwaffe bombers, could sink 700,000 tons of shipping a month. As 1941 dawned, it appeared very likely that this goal would be attained. But Dönitz would not completely have his way. The British had broken the German Enigma code, and its use was slowly making a difference. In one 10-day period in March 1941, Dönitz lost his top three skippers. Prien and Schepke fell in action, and Kretschmer and his crew were captured. Even so, his “wolf pack” tactics, conceived in World War I, were making his U-boats collectively more dangerous than they were individually. One of the high points of U-boat and Luftwaffe combined operations was the attack on convoy PQ-17 in June and July of 1942, where 24 merchantmen bound for Murmansk were sunk. Though the U-boats would experience another “Happy Time” along the East Coast of the United States in 1942, America’s industrial might soon had in quantity such anti-submarine assets as K-class blimps, long-range bombers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers. These, plus the use of convoys and sophisticated sonar, would reduce the U-boat threat almost to the level of a manageable nuisance by D-Day. Compared to World War I, the U.S. submarine fleet was in substantially better condition when it went to war in 1941. Though the S-class boats harbored in bases in the Philippines, Pearl Harbor, and elsewhere were outdated, they were still useful. And new submarine production was well underway, promising even better boats for the fleet in the not-too-distant future. With the U.S. Pacific Fleet crippled following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the submarines assumed an immediate importance in fighting against Japanese offensives that reached as far south as the Dutch East Indies, as far east as Midway, and as far west as India.

Overseeing the U.S. Navy’s submarines and crews in the Indian and Pacific oceans was Commander, Submarine Force Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) Vice Adm. Charles Lockwood. “Uncle Charlie” Lockwood became one of the outstanding theater commanders of the war. His concern for the welfare of the men under his command and their boats earned their enduring love and respect. Whenever a boat returned from patrol, Uncle Charlie made a point of always being at the pier to greet the crews. During the first year of the war, the submariners’ effectiveness was hampered by two things. One was the peacetime doctrine of frugality in expenditure of torpedoes, and caution and deliberation in attack that some skippers were unable to overcome once the real shooting war started. The other was faulty torpedoes. The latter problem was cogently expressed by an exasperated Lt. Cmdr. Dudley “Mush” Morton, skipper of the Wahoo and one of the early stars in the submarine service. During an attack on a convoy, he reported that of three torpedoes fired, one exploded prematurely, one ran wild, and the third scored a direct hit on its target, with his sound officers recording a definite “thud with a dud.” In addition to exploding prematurely, or not at all, torpedoes also ran too deep or too shallow. In one harrowing instance, a torpedo even turned on the submarine that launched it (the submarine fortunately escaped disaster). Worse, there was no consistent pattern to the assorted malfunctions. Complicating things further was bureaucratic intransigence from the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance that claimed, despite mounting evidence that included field tests conducted by Lockwood, that the fault lay with the submariners and not with the torpedoes. Many submarine commanders would suffer relief and transfer before the problems with the Mark VI magnetic exploder, the depth control mechanism, and the contact exploder were identified. Almost two years USS DELAWARE 73


Above: The torpedoed Japanese destroyer Yamakaze sinking on June 25, 1942, approximately 75 miles southwest of Yokahama Harbor, Japan, photographed through the periscope of the U.S. Navy submarine USS Nautilus (SS 168). Above right: A submarine officer peers through the periscope of a U.S. Navy submarine during World War II.

passed before new torpedoes correcting the design flaws reached the fleet. Yet, despite being hobbled by an unreliable main battery, submarine skippers still managed to sink ships, with some earning the Navy Cross and a few receiving the Medal of Honor. When Mush Morton took command of the Wahoo, he told his crew, “We will take every reasonable precaution, but our mission is to sink enemy shipping.” When the Wahoo returned from the first patrol under his command on Feb. 7, 1943, eight small Japanese flags, signifying eight sunken ships (postwar analysis would lower that total), were flying from a halyard, and an upended broomstick, signifying a clean sweep, was lashed to the periscope. Morton and the Wahoo became famous. Later, during a patrol in the Sea of Japan, the Wahoo, after sinking three freighters and a passenger ship, failed to radio a scheduled report on Oct. 23, 1943. With sadness, Lockwood concluded that the Wahoo had been lost. The sunken submarine was found in 2006, lying in about 213 feet (65 meters) of water in the La Perouse (Soya) Strait between the Japanese island of Hokkaido and the Russian island of Sakhalin. Lt. Cmdr. Lawson P. “Red” Ramage of the Parche was among the first skippers to go into action using an American version of the wolf pack tactic. He achieved individual distinction during a mission at the end of July 1944 in an action later called “Ramage’s Rampage.” After conducting a coordinated attack on a Japanese convoy, Ramage successfully maneuvered the Parche into the middle of the cluster of ships. Under Ramage’s direction from the conning tower, the surfaced Parche fired torpedoes and maneuvered with such aggressive skill that the disoriented Japanese escorts wound up shooting at each other in their attempts to hit the Parche. Credited with the sinking of several ships, Ramage received the Medal of Honor.

Lt. Cmdr. Dick O’Kane, skipper of the Tang, was responsible for sinking 31 enemy ships before his capture, making him the highest individual American scorer in the war. O’Kane survived his experience as a prisoner of war and eventually received the Medal of Honor. Another Medal of Honor recipient was Cmdr. Joseph Enright of the Archerfish. In November 1944, the Archerfish scored the biggest kill ever made by a submarine when it torpedoed the 72,000-ton aircraft carrier Shinano just outside Tokyo Bay. But sinking ships was only one part of the submarine’s many missions in the war. The Nautilus and Argonaut were tasked with carrying Carlson’s Raiders on the daring raid on Japanese installations on Makin Atoll in August 1942. In so doing they became the first submarines to serve as troop transports in what would later be called a special operations mission. Other submarines would be deployed on missions that included the drop off, pick up, and supplying of coast watchers and other agents, the retrieval and rescue of downed pilots and air crews, reconnaissance, and mine laying. In his final report of the war in 1945, Lockwood stated that U.S. submarines had sunk 4,000 Japanese ships totaling 10 million tons. Three-fifths of the Japanese merchant fleet had been sent to the bottom of the sea. The cost of this success was high. Fifty-two boats, 374 officers, and 3,131 enlisted men, constituting a 22 percent casualty rate, had been lost. Though this was the highest loss rate of all the services, the result was an achievement that all but isolated the Japanese Home Islands. So effective had the U.S. Navy’s submarines become that the waters around Japan were virtually owned by American submariners. The end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War opened a new chapter in the use of submarines. With the installation of nuclear power plants, a submarine’s ability to stay submerged was now limited only by the amount of supplies that could be stored for the crew. USS DELAWARE 75


Naval operations in the Korean War and Vietnam War were largely conducted by the surface fleets. Submarines made their mark on the strategic side as stealthy, mobile platforms for ballistic missiles and in the black operations of intelligence gathering. The submarine’s contribution to the latter was so extensive and so valuable that most of the information about their missions is still classified. With a wide range of ultra-sensitive listening devices, and protected by increasingly ultra-quiet technology, submarines eavesdropped on radio transmissions, tapped into undersea cables, and photographed boats and ships submerged and on the surface in training operations and at ports. For some of the submarines, the waters of the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk became more familiar than the waters of their homeports. When Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the first stage of the international coalition response led by the United States was initiated. Operation Desert Shield saw deployment of military ground and air assets to the Middle East, primarily to Saudi Arabia, and a naval cordon stationed in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The most visible aspect of this naval cordon was the carrier battle groups. But nuclear submarines were also on station and ready to strike. On Jan. 17, 1991, Operation Desert Storm was launched. The Los An-

The U.S. Navy nuclear submarine Skate (SSN 578), at the North Pole, 1962. Nuclear power transformed submarine design and operations.

geles-class submarine Louisville in the Red Sea was the first to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles, and together with Pittsburgh, launched 12 Tomahawks (the Louisville eight and the Pittsburgh four) at Iraqi targets. Other attack submarines, both American and from other nations, stood guard over the incredible amount of cargo ships carrying war supplies. America’s submarines made a larger contribution 12 years later in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which finally saw the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime. This time, a dozen Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarines participated. The Cheyenne fired the first Tomahawk shot at a Baghdad bunker that was believed to be occupied by Iraq’s ruler. Other submarines stationed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea included the Columbia, Providence, San Juan, Newport News, Boise, Montpelier, Key West, Augusta, Toledo, Pittsburgh and Louisville. The submarines fired a large share of the 802 Tomahawks aimed at strategic Iraqi targets. USS DELAWARE 77


The Russian Yasen-class cruise missile submarine Severodvinsk.

And as the new boats were commissioned, Moscow began increasing global submarine operations. In March 2015, Adm. Viktor Chirkov, commander in chief of the Russian navy, stated, “From January 2014 to March 2015 the intensity of patrols by submarines has risen by almost 50 percent as compared to 2013.” These patrols have extended into areas once patrolled by its Soviet counterparts. For example, in late 2012, a Sierra II-class nuclear-powered attack submarine was discovered just 200 miles off the eastern coast of the United States. A more sobering incident occurred in the opening months of 2014. A Russian Vishnya-class Auxiliary General Intelligence (AGI, or electronic reconnaissance) ship together with an ocean-going tug was identified operating in international waters off the coast of Florida near U.S. Navy air and submarine bases. Analysts believed that the AGI was using sophisticated computer technology and sensors to track submarines through the subtle changes in the surface of the sea caused by the transiting submerged boat. Meanwhile in the waters around Europe in October 2014, the Swedish navy detected what it believed to be a “foreign submarine” conducting operations in its territorial waters of the Baltic Sea. And on April 27, 2015, vessels in Finland’s navy detected a “possible


The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in years of neglect and reduction of the Russian navy. Overall it shrank to about one-fourth the size of its Soviet forebear, and its submarine force went from a high of almost 400 boats in 1985 to a low of just 63 in 2008. Maintenance and training were hit just as hard. Then, in 2008, the Russian navy dramatically began to rebuild. Aging ships were retired and replaced, enlistment and training of personnel were overhauled, and new generations of ships of all types began being built. The result in the Russian submarine fleet has been dramatic. After a series of delays, the first Yasen-class nuclear attack boat Severodvinsk underwent sea trials in September 2011 and became operational in 2014. The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) rates it as being quieter than the Los Angeles-class boats, but not as quiet as the Seawolf- and Virginia-class submarines. Simultaneously, Russia went forward with construction of the Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines. Yury Dolgorukiy, the first in the class, passed sea trials in 2010 and was commissioned in 2013. In 2010, Russian shipyards began construction of the Novorossisk, the first of a class of up to 13 Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric attack submarines that incorporate state-ofthe-art stealth technology. In a November 2013 press conference, the Novorossisk’s captain, Konstantin Tabachny, said, “Our potential opponents call it the ‘Black Hole’ due to the very low noise emission and visibility of the submarine. To be undetectable is the main quality for a submarine. And this whole project really fits its purpose.”


The Russian Boreiclass submarine Yuriy Dolgorukiy at the mouth of the White Sea in 2010, part of a new era of Russian submarine technology and capability.

underwater object” inside its territorial waters. Though neither the Swedish nor Finnish navies were able to identify or force the objects to surface, suspicions are that they were Russian submarines, something Moscow officially denies. In October 2016, Britain’s Royal Navy reported it detected two Akula-class nuclear attack submarines in the Irish Sea and one Kilo-class submarine in the English Channel, all en route to support Russian operations in Syria. A naval source stated the “Russian submarines made it clear that they wanted us to know they were there.” These and other similar actions by the Russian navy are part of what Adm. James Foggo III, commander of United States Naval Forces Europe - Africa and of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, has called the “Fourth Battle of the Atlantic” (the others occurring in World Wars I and II and the Cold War). In a June 2016 article in Proceedings, he wrote, “Once again, an effective, skilled, and technologically advanced Russian submarine force is challenging us. … Not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and confrontational ways, its national-security policy is aimed at challenging the United States and its NATO allies and partners.” He noted that this Russian push-back has created an “arc of steel” that runs from the Arctic Ocean south though the Baltic Sea and down to the Black Sea. Already Russia has imposed its will over the coastal waters of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and has challenged NATO power-projection capabilities elsewhere. “We’ve seen the creation of new classes of all sorts of submarines and ships,” Foggo told the Atlantic Council in 2018. “I’m more concerned with submarine warfare – Dolgorukiy, Severodvinsk, Petersburg, the six new Kilos now operating in the Black Sea, and two of which have remained in the Mediterranean and have launched the Kalibr missile from the Mediterranean. The Kalibr missile is an impressive missile; a land attack cruise missile, and if launched from any of these bodies of water, including the Caspian … can range any one of the capitals in Europe. It’s important that we have situational awareness and know what the Russians are doing in the undersea space at all times.” In October 2019, Norway reported that it had discovered 10 submarines of the Russian northern fleet operat-

ing in North Atlantic waters off its coast. It was the largest gathering of Russian submarines since the Cold War. Further evidence of the Russian navy’s increased capability occurred on Oct. 30, 2019, when the SSBN Prince Vladimir, the first upgraded Borei II-(A)-class submarine, stationed in the White Sea, test-fired while submerged an SS-N-32 Bulava ballistic missile that successfully hit its target a continent away on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula. This was part of the submarine’s final validation trials. The Prince Vladimir is the first of a planned five SSBNs of the Borei II-(A)-class. Two are presently under construction and scheduled to be delivered in 2026 and 2027. Part of the Navy’s response has been to reactivate the 2nd Fleet, covering the U.S. East Coast and the North Atlantic, which had been deactivated in 2011 due to a perceived decline of Russian navy ambitions and operations. The U.S. Navy faces a similar challenge in the Pacific with the “new kid on the blue water navy block” – the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) – and everyone’s favorite rogue nation, North Korea. Up until the 1980s, the Chinese navy was a littoral force. That began to change in the latter half of the 1980s, when the government embarked on a ship-building and buying program designed to give its navy blue-water capability. China possesses the world’s fastest-growing navy and the most powerful navy in the region, with around 400 surface combatants, submarines, amphibious ships, patrol craft and specialized types, according to Reuters. China has used its navy to buttress its sovereignty over resource rich regions in the China Sea claimed in whole or in part by other regional nations. The territories in dispute include the Paracel and Spratly island chains, the Scarborough Shoals, and other outcrops, atolls, sandbanks, and reefs. And it plans a regional force powerful enough to forestall any attempt by the U.S. Navy to intercede. To further its claim, China transformed several reefs in the South China Sea into man-made island military bases. To raise its surface fleet’s profile, China has invested in aircraft carriers. The first was the Liaoning (the former Varyag, an Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier purchased from the Ukraine), regarded by experts as more of a showpiece political statement. More serious are several types of carriers under construction or development. But the PLAN’s force acknowledged as a genuine strategic threat is its submarine fleet, one with second-strike nuclear bal-



A Chinese Song-class submarine. One surfaced within five miles of the carrier Kitty Hawk while she was operating in the Pacific in 2006.

listic missile capability. The government has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not afraid to flex that growing submarine muscle. Examples of that muscle-flexing include the October 2006 Kitty Hawk incident, in which a Song-class diesel attack submarine shadowed the aircraft carrier’s battle group undetected before surfacing within torpedo range of the Kitty Hawk, numerous passages of Chinese submarines of a variety of types traveling through or just beyond Japanese territorial waters, and the tailing of the USS George Washington in October 2008 by two submarines – a Song-class boat and a Han-class nuclear powered sub – during the carrier’s voyage from Japan to South Korea. In 2014 China deployed its nuclear-powered submarines for the first time ever in the Indian Ocean. One such mission involved a joint naval exercise with Iran and another involved an anti-piracy operation around the Horn of Africa. In September 2016, the Chinese and Russian navies conducted Joint Sea 2016. What set this exercise apart from previous ones was that it was held for the first time in the South China Sea. The size of its participation put the region on notice that Russia is also expanding its naval presence in the Pacific Rim. Then, in one of the most provocative actions thus far, in December 2016, a Chinese warship seized a U.S. Navy underwater drone called a “glider” operating in international waters off Subic Bay in the Philippines. Launched by the USNS Bowditch, a civilian-crewed oceanographic ship operated by Military Sealift Command, the glider typically collects unclassified data such as water temperatures and salinity levels. The warship intercepted the glider before the Bowditch could recover it and refused to release the drone despite repeated radio requests to do so. Following

a démarche issued by the State Department, the drone was returned. Experts agree that China’s expanding naval program and actions are part of an emerging strategy designed to assert its power and blunt or thwart U.S. intervention in the Pacific Rim. China now has the largest attacksubmarine fleet in the world. Its Jin-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are equipped with JL-2 nuclear ballistic missiles with a range of about 4,000 nautical miles. This gives China the capability of launching a nuclear missile attack on the West Coast of the United States from locations deep within the Pacific Ocean. And new, more technologically advanced submarines, such as the Type-095 Tang-class attack submarines under construction at the Bohai Shipyard, are expected to be operational very soon. On the defensive side, China is developing an “Underwater Great Wall” of UUVs, other maritime robots and seafloor sensors tailored to defend naval bases with surveillance UUVs, counter torpedo defenses, and a networked minefield of armed and smart UUVs supported by automated underwater listening posts. North Korea upped the maritime ante in the region when on May 9, 2015, the Korean People’s Army Navy announced the successful submarine test-launch (apparently from a submersible barge) of a “Polaris-1” ballistic missile. North Korea has about 70 submarines of all types, from midget to diesel-electric ballistic missile subs. It’s a littoral force possessing a modified Soviet-era fleet not technologically advanced enough to avoid detection by the U.S. Navy. That said, the country’s ballistic subs could hide long enough to launch a missile attack against South Korea or Japan with little or no warning. The U.S. Navy has responded to China’s and North Korea’s actions in a variety of ways. Joint exercises USS DELAWARE 81


a blueprint for the Navy’s expanding development and use of UUVs and AUVs. If the U.S. Navy’s submarines are regarded as a force multiplier weapon system (and they are), then UUV and AUV drones are a huge force multiplier for submarines. A UUV/AUV-equipped submarine can simultaneously conduct multiple missions, some many miles from the boat itself, literally being in many places at one time. For example, such a submarine deployed in the South China Sea off the Spratly Islands could have one drone conduct offshore reconnaissance and another monitor traffic through the Balabac Strait while the submarine shadows PLAN fleet activity off the Spratlys. In 2015 the Navy began testing the deployment of Remus 600 UUVs from Dry Deck Shelters aboard Virginia-class submarines. Manufactured by Hydroid, a division of Kongsberg Maritime, the Remus 600 is an AUV equipped with dual-frequency side-scanning sonar technology, synthetic aperture sonar, acoustic imaging, video cameras and GPS devices. Unlike many UUVs that have to be controlled by a human operator, the Remus 600 can be programmed to operate independently. The 11-meter-long Dry Deck Shelter enables the boat to launch divers or UUVs/AUVs while submerged, and other UUVs are being developed for launch and recovery from tubes in the Virginia Payload Module. Drones in a variety of shapes, sizes, and capabilities are at varying stages in the pipeline. In 2017 the U.S.

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) at periscope depth off the coast of Malaysia during the seventh annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2001 exercise. Along with building the most stealthy and capable submarines possible, such as the Virginia-class submarines now replacing the Los Angeles class, the U.S. Navy continues to work with allies and partners to ensure the safety and maritime strategic interests of the nation.


in the region have increased, as have plans to more closely work together with regional nations wishing assistance in asserting their sovereignty and rights of passage. The vast undersea microphone network originally designed to track Soviet submarines is being updated. With regard to its submarine force, the U.S. Navy has assigned 60 percent of its undersea force to the Pacific. In 2015, Submarine Squadron 15, stationed at Naval Base Guam then consisting of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines USS Oklahoma City, USS Key West, and USS Chicago, was reinforced with a fourth Los Angeles-class sub, the USS Topeka. And the Pacific submarine fleet has been reinforced with the new Virginia-class nuclear submarines USS Texas, Hawaii, North Carolina, Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri. And just as drones have transformed operations in the air and on land, so too are drones, called unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), reshaping operations under water. The 2004 The Navy Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Master Plan, an update of a 2000 document, identified and prioritized nine capabilities for drones: ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), mine countermeasures, ASW, inspection/identification, oceanography, communication/navigation network node, payload delivery, information operations, and time critical strike. Regularly updated, it has served as


SEALs and divers from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team (SDVT) 1 swim back to the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) during an exercise for certification on SEAL delivery vehicle operations in the southern Pacific Ocean. The exercises educated operators and divers on the techniques and procedures related to the delivery vehicle and its operations.

Navy made history when it commissioned Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron 1 (UUVRON-1), the firstever naval squadron composed entirely of undersea drones. The squadron is tasked to conduct a variety of operations and serve as a test bed for the development and deployment of next generation unmanned underwater vehicles. Past missions have included mine clearing, surveillance, and ocean floor mapping, augmenting, not replacing, manned Navy missions. The squadron will be particularly useful on missions that are too dangerous to put men on, or those missions that are too mundane and routine but important – like monitoring. Literally the biggest news in the UUV world is the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV). As part of the Navy’s rapid acquisition program, it awarded Boeing a contract to deliver five XLUUVs and assorted support elements. Boeing’s Orca is based on its Echo Voyager, an XLUUV created for testing purposes only. Up to 85 feet long and weighing as much as 50 tons, it is designed to have a range of 6,500 nautical miles. Among its features is a payload

bay capable of carrying a wide variety of cargo, from weapons such as torpedoes and mines, to reconnaissance equipment and supplies. Also on the rapid acquisition program is the smaller Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV), called Snakehead. The Snakehead LDUUV is designed for intelligence, surveillance, and mine countermeasures missions, and is based on a modular, open architecture that will give the Navy flexibility to quickly modify it in response to new mission requirements. Specifications call for the Snakehead to be capable of conducting missions longer than 70 days in open ocean and littoral seas, being fully autonomous, long-endurance, and land-launched with advanced sensing for littoral environments. Prototypes have undergone trials, and production is slated for 2020 and 2021. The Office of Naval Research, for example, is developing an AUV capable of conducing missions longer than 70 days in ocean and littoral seas. The AUV would be capable of being launched from a variety of platforms and its missions would include IRS, ASW, mine counter measures, and offensive operations. USS DELAWARE 83


The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) transits the Pacific Ocean during Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX 21G). Only three Seawolf-class submarines were constructed before giving way to the Virginia class.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also being tested and developed, such as Switchblade, a tube-launched aerial drone that can operate from a submarine. Manufactured by AeroVironment, it is a battery-powered UAV capable of carrying an explosive warhead or an ISR package, and was successfully launched from a U.S. Navy submarine’s trash-disposal unit while the submarine was at periscope depth. In 2013 the Naval Research Laboratory also successfully launched a Sea Robin XFC from a submerged submarine. The U.S. Navy and its allies are working aggressively to hone ASW skills that had atrophied in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Along with much improved technologies and new classes of ships and submarines, interoperability and cooperation between navies has moved to the forefront. International naval exercises such as Dynamic Mongoose (North Sea and

Norwegian Sea), BALTOPS (Baltic Sea), Dynamic Manta (central Mediterranean Sea), and Sea Breeze (Black Sea), amongst others, are either entirely focused on or include aggressive training in coordinated ASW operations. Submarines began as a naval novelty. By World War II, they had become such a force to be reckoned with that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill publicly confessed that the war against the U-boats was the only war he feared. During the Cold War, they achieved extraordinary distinction in intelligence operations. Despite competition from other nations’ fleets, U.S. Navy submarines’ ability to reveal their presence only when launching attack remains unmatched. And now with drone UUVs and AUVs becoming available, the ability to protect the United States’ maritime strategic interests will only get better for the branch of the Navy known as the “Silent Service.” USS DELAWARE 85

SUBMARINE DEVELOPMENT A survey of submarine visionaries and pioneering boats

THE HISTORICAL RECORD IS AWASH with examples of early peoples seeking to explore the underwater world. In a section of the ancient Greek text Problemata, which may or may not have been written by Aristotle around 360 B.C., the author hypothesizes the use of a kind of diving bell, an inverted “kettle” filled with air to give sponge divers an underwater base of operations for extended dives. During Alexander the Great’s siege of Tyre in 332 B.C., enemy divers continually severed the mooring ropes of Alexander’s ships and set them adrift to crash into each other. Though no record of the siege mentions the use of a diving bell, a legend emerged of Alexander being lowered into the harbor in a glass barrel or jar for several minutes to observe the goings-on. For centuries thereafter, versions of this tale were celebrated in texts and paintings from Britain to India. One of the first actual uses of the diving bell was recorded by Francesco de Marchi of Bologna, who, in 1535, used a primitive one-person diving bell to explore the sunken wrecks of the Emperor Caligula’s fabled Lake Nemi ships. By now, the Western world’s leading thinkers had begun to envision a kind of underwater boat that could move under propulsion. Leonardo da Vinci, for one, claimed to have figured out how a person could remain submerged for an extended period of time – but also claimed he would never publish the details of this information “because of the evil nature of men who practice assassination at the bottom of the sea.” In 1578, seven decades after da Vinci’s death, the English mathematician William Bourne published his own idea for a submersible in the book Inventions or Devices, which included a description of “a shippe or boat that may goe under the water unto the bottome, and so come again at your pleasure.” Though he included no drawings or models, Bourne described how the craft – essentially a wooden boat covered in oiled leather – could be raised or lowered in by filling and emptying ballast tanks, and how its occupants could breathe by means of a hollow mast protruding upward. The first submersible boats to be made to Bourne’s description were conceived by Dutch physician Cornelius Drebbel, who tutored the children of King James I and served as “court inventor.” While Bourne had hypothetically solved the problems of buoyancy and air supply, Drebbel added a solution to how the boat could be propelled: A crew of oarsmen, if the boat were properly sealed and ballasted, could drive it. Few records of Drebbel’s design remain, but he built and successfully tested 86 USS DELAWARE


By Craig Collins

A 16th century painting of Alexander the Great being lowered into the harbor in a kind of glass diving bell.


at least three of these submersibles – the largest of which carried 16 passengers and was demonstrated in front of King James and several thousand spectators. The boat stayed submerged for three hours, cruising at a maximum depth of about 15 feet. Drebbel’s invention impressed King James – who rode along for a test dive beneath the Thames – but England’s Royal Navy reacted to these demonstrations with indifference, establishing an unfortunate precedent. For the next three centuries, while the English continued to dismiss the submarine’s potential, their enemies developed and refined the submarine as a means of attacking the world’s most powerful navy. In 1775, the young American David Bushnell, with encouragement from both Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, devised the Turtle to attack the British warships blockading colonial ports. Small and cumbersome, propelled by two screw propellers, the Turtle proved too difficult to operate; it failed in its mission to blow up HMS Eagle in New York Harbor and was later sunk. It was, however, the first documented use of a submarine in combat. The next great innovator in submarine technology was the Irish-American artist and engineer Robert Fulton, who spent many years in Europe and grew to loathe the Royal Navy – which he, an Irish nationalist, believed was choking off freedom and commerce around the world. By the late 1790s, Fulton had developed plans for an undersea boat he called the Nautilus. Sheathed in copper over iron ribs, the Nautilus was a cigar-shaped craft, 21 feet long and more than 6 feet at the widest, powered by a hand-cranked propeller. Horizontal fins controlled the angle of dive, and a hollow iron keel served as its ballast tank. Above deck, the Nautilus had several new features: a fan-shaped sail that could be deployed to help propel the boat when surfaced; a periscope that would allow an underwater observer to


Above: David Bushnell’s Turtle was the United States’ first military submarine. Right: A reconstruction of Robert Fulton’s Nautilus, considered the first practical submarine.



Fulton drawing from an 1806 submarine proposal rejected by the U.S. government.

see above the horizon; and a small observation dome that presaged the modern conning tower. Bottled, compressed air allowed the manned craft to remain submerged for up to five hours, and a snorkel could be extended to supplement this supply. The Nautilus was designed to carry an explosive charge Fulton called a “carcass,” also commonly known as a “torpedo,” that could be attached to the hull of a ship and detonated from a distance, making it an ideal weapon to break the Royal Navy’s blockade of France. After successful demonstrations of the Nautilus in the Seine and the English Channel, Fulton offered to make submarines for the French – who declined, for both practical and moral reasons. A human-powered submarine was simply too slow, and its range too limited, to be useful in naval combat – and the French Ministry of the Marine considered the submarine an underhanded tactical weapon, fit for pirates. Fulton lent credence to this idea when he asked for himself and his men to be commissioned as officers in the French navy, officially recognized as belligerents, to avoid being executed if they were captured. Rebuffed by the French, Fulton apparently shrugged off his hatred of the British and offered to sell his plans to Prime Minister William Pitt, who encouraged a public demonstration of the stealth attack. This kind of warfare was promptly denounced by other Britons as cowardly, an attitude later summed up by John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent and admiral of the fleet: “[Pitt] is the greatest fool that ever existed to encourage a mode of war which they who commanded the seas did not want and which, if successful, would deprive them of it.”

With no prospects in Europe, Fulton returned to the United States and, in 1810, persuaded Congress to put up $5,000 for a steam-powered submarine that, if he’d lived to complete it, would have represented a revolution in submarine technology. As it was, many problems remained to be solved before the submarine could serve reliably as a naval warship. PROPULSION AND WEAPONRY: SOLVING THE SUBMARINE Circumstances had led the submarine’s inventors to envision it as a vehicle to be used primarily as a tool of war. By the end of the 19th century, it could only be imagined as a defensive tactical weapon, to surprise and check a more powerful enemy in coastal and harbor defense. Its stealth was still widely disdained. In 1901, British Adm. Sir Arthur Wilson declared the submarine “underhand, unfair and damned un-English.” The two primary weaknesses of early submarines were their unreliable – and dangerous – weaponry and their sluggish means of propulsion. By 1870, the crude “torpedo” had been refined by the Englishman Robert Whitehead, who had developed an unguided, self-propelled torpedo that could be fired from a launching tube. In 1885, the Swedish gun maker Thorsten Nordenfelt introduced a submarine, the Nordenfelt I, fitted with a deck-mounted torpedo tube. Its steam-powered engines made the Nordenfelt I more of a semi-submersible than a submarine; the heat, smoke, and exhaust from combustion rapidly accumulated inside the hull, prompting frequent surfacing. USS DELAWARE 89


Top: Sepia wash by R.G. Skerrett of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, which carried out the first successful attack on a warship but was herself sunk in the process. Above: USS Holland (SS-1), the U.S. Navy’s first modern submarine, was launched in May 1897 and commissioned in October 1900. She featured a conning tower, ballast and trim tanks, and a reloadable torpedo tube, along with a gasoline engine for running on the surface and an electric motor for submerged operation, powering a single screw. John P. Holland’s company was purchased by the company that supplied his batteries, establishing a lineage leading to today’s General Dynamics Electric Boat. 90 USS DELAWARE


The French submarine Narval (Narwhal), commissioned in October 1899, incorporated a double-hull design and dual propulsion systems, among other innovations, which set design elements for submarines right up until the advent of nuclear propulsion.

The French submarine Narval, launched in 1899, was the first to use two different propulsion systems: an oilfired steam engine on the surface, and an electric motor when submerged. The steam engine served as a dynamo, recharging the electric motor’s batteries – a refinement that would be imitated for decades to come. Steam engines, however, were notoriously unreliable; their bulky boilers were prone to explosion, and had to be shut down and sealed off from the outside before the submarine could submerge. The next great submarine innovators set their sights on a more stable and reliable means of propulsion, and the one who stood out from the crowd – who created what military historian Thomas Parrish, in his book The Submarine: A History, described as “the world’s first functional, operational, nonexperimental submarine” – was John P. Holland, an Irish schoolmaster who emigrated to the United States in 1873. Holland had studied the Civil War exploits of the ironclads Monitor and Merrimack and the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley – the first combat submarine to sink a warship – and had come to believe, like Fulton, that the submarine would be key to breaking the back of the hated Royal Navy. The crowning achievement of Holland’s work, the Holland VI, was launched in 1897. More than 53 feet long and

10 feet at the widest, it was propelled on the surface by a recent innovation – gasoline-powered internal combustion engines – that gave it a surface range of 1,000 miles at a top speed of 8 knots, and could be used to charge an electric motor that could send the vessel 30 miles submerged on a single charge. The submarine was remarkably maneuverable: It dove, for example, under its own power, rather than waiting for ballast tanks to fill and empty. An improved version of the Holland boat became SS-I, the U.S. Navy’s first commissioned submarine, in 1900. The submarines and unterseeboote (U-boats) of the world wars were, for the most part, variations on the Holland design. One subsequent improvement substituted cleaner-burning, less-volatile diesel engines as power sources, making diesel-electric submarines the standard configuration until the advent of nuclear power. All relied – even with the invention of the snorkel, which drew air into the diesel engines and charged the boat’s battery pack by means of a deployable snorkel mast – on an air supply for combustion, and operated primarily as surface ships that could submerge for a time when escaping or attacking. This remained the case until the latter years of World War II, when the German Kriegsmarine began producing the Type XXI U-boats or elektroboote. The Type XXI U-boat was designed to spend its entire patrol – more USS DELAWARE 91


USS Seal, built by Simon Lake, was commissioned in 1912 and introduced features like the sail, diving planes, the control room, the escape trunk, and the rotating, retractable periscope.

than 17,000 miles – submerged, employing a snorkel to run its diesels or running off its huge battery array, and this operational refinement led to a more streamlined hull configuration and the removal of deck hardware to optimize underwater speeds. At the turn of the 20th century, it was obvious that the world’s navies had been presented with a formidable weapon. The question was: What to do with it? For the next half-century, to some extent, world history was written by the varied answers to this question – and those answers revealed a naval culture and strategic thinking that had not yet caught up to the submarine’s disruptive influence. The British Royal Navy, it turned out, had no idea what a submarine was for; to the Admiralty, it remained an ungentlemanly nuisance, if not a piratical outrage. All World War I combatants, at the outset, envisioned the role of a navy as a large flotilla that would meet its adversary on the open sea, as at Trafalgar, and set guns blazing until a victor emerged. The smaller German navy, however, after learning it couldn’t break the Royal Navy’s blockade, promptly switched tactics, unleashing its U-boats to torpedo and sink merchant ships that kept the island nation supplied.

This approach was roundly condemned, and prompted debate over whether submariners at war should observe the previous century’s “prize” or “cruiser” rules for wartime ship captures, which required the safe evacuation of crew and passengers before a ship was captured or sunk. Prize rules were impracticable for submarines. When the German U-20 carried out the most notorious naval attack of the war, sinking the ocean liner RMS Lusitania with a torpedo off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915, it was denounced as a war crime on both sides of the Atlantic: The Lusitania, briefly the largest passenger liner in the world, had been carrying 1,959 passengers and crew, and 1,198 of them – non-combatants all – lost their lives. The German perspective differed: The ship had also departed New York with more than 173 tons of munitions for the British, making it a necessary target. The Germans’ continued practice of unrestricted submarine warfare, however, would be an important factor in the U.S. decision to enter the war on the Allied side. Having begun each world war on the defense against superior German submarines, the United Kingdom and its allies ramped up efforts to counter the threat, USS DELAWARE 93


developing technologies and methods that would be known collectively as anti-submarine warfare, (ASW): Underwater microphones, or hydrophones, along with the active sound detection known as ASDIC, later refined by American researchers into sonar, provided an early but crude means of detection. The depth charge – an explosive with a hydrostatic switch that would detonate it at a specified depth – was first used successfully on March 22, 1916, when HMS Farnborough – a “Q-ship,” or armed merchant vessel designed to bait a U-boat into attacking – sank the German U-68 off the coast of Ireland. The submarine continued to be a tool whose uses were interpreted differently by World War II combatants. The Imperial Japanese navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor included a force of five midget submarines, transported on the decks of larger subs. The effectiveness of these submarines during the attack is still debated today, but their use illustrates the rapidly evolving state of submarine warfare at the mid-20th century.


THE NUCLEAR AGE Questions concerning the ethics of submarine warfare were rendered quaint-sounding by the United States’ use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Years later, the man who would become the architect of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear fleet, Hyman G. Rickover, expressed to Congress the dangers of planning for wars fought in the old way: “The lesson of history,” he said, “is that when a war starts every nation will ultimately use whatever weapon it has available.” In 1955, Rickover’s advocacy helped yield the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN 571), signaling not only a new era in submarine technology and defense doctrine, but also a dramatic shift in Cold War geopolitics. Powered by an inexhaustible supply of steam heated by a nuclear reactor, Nautilus was the first submarine to use a safe and reliable means

Above left: The Type XXI U-boat Wilhelm Bauer, a museum ship. The Type XXI and Type XXIII U-boats were designed to operate primarily underwater. The operational submarines usually sat much lower in the water, approximately where the dark and light paint meet. They were faster submerged than surfaced. Above: USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.

of air-independent propulsion (AIP) – a technology that had consisted, to date, of experimental closed-cycle combustion engines fed by bottled or chemical sources of oxygen that were inherently unsafe. In theory, the Nautilus could stay submerged indefinitely, but the 1,800 miles it traveled under the Arctic ice in the summer of 1958, from the Bering Strait to the eastern coast of Greenland, was enough to tip the balance of the Cold War. To the Soviets, who at the time enjoyed a 450-to-110 advantage over the United States in military submarines – and who had just a year earlier shocked the world with the launch of the Sputnik I satellite – the unspoken message of the Nautilus voyage was clear: The United States had a vessel that could travel unchecked to the 3,000-mile-long Murmansk-toVladivostok coastline of the Soviet Union – a prospect made terrifying by the U.S. Navy’s successful submarine launches of Regulus nuclear-armed guided cruise missiles USS DELAWARE 95

and, in 1960, of the Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile. What the U.S. fleet lacked in numbers, it made up in technological superiority; despite Soviet advances, the U.S. Navy enjoyed this advantage through the end of the Cold War – and to the present day. The ensuing half-century was a race for technological improvements in submarine and ASW design, and yielded innovations such as acoustic dampening techniques; sophisticated sensors, fire-control systems, and electronic support arrays; and unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs, which proved capable of reaching the ocean’s greatest depths. The question that had never really been resolved during World Wars I and II – What’s a submarine for? – was answered by the Cold War: A nuclear submarine was a powerful deterrent, an indispensable component in the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Its stealth, in addition, provided a platform for SIGINT, or the gathering of intelligence through interception of analog or electronic communication signals. These roles – projecting power and gathering intelligence – have remained at the core of U.S. naval doctrine since the launch of the Nautilus.


THE 21ST CENTURY: THE EMERGING “CYBER SUB” ERA The post-Cold War era presents a much more complex strategic arena. China’s demonstrated ambition to build a blue-water navy, the reemergence of Russian military might, and a burst of innovation in information technology are among the factors that have made the future of undersea warfare increasingly uncertain. While the United States’ Virginia-class submarines are the most advanced undersea warships ever built, the gap is arguably closing; as other nations use powerful processing technologies and detection capabilities to extend the range and effectiveness of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, some are also developing super stealthy non-nuclear submarines: Sweden’s Gotland-class submarines, for example, are the first in the world to feature a Stirling engine AIP system, allowing them to remain underwater for weeks. The German Type 212 submarine is a diesel/fuel-cell hybrid that can stay submerged for up to

A contemporary cutaway drawing of USS Nautilus, showing her reactor, engine room, and other features.

three weeks. Both submarines can operate more quietly than nuclear submarines. At the same time, quantum leaps in sensing and computing power have moved ASW beyond the capabilities of active and passive sonar; it’s widely expected that optical sensors, composed of LED-transmitted beams or lasers, will soon operate at greater range and sensitivity than low-frequency sonars. Passive sensors are capable of monitoring changes in the ocean environment, such as changes in current, radiation, ambient noise, or surface disruptions, that signal the presence of an underwater craft. Getting close to a country’s shoreline or its naval assets, undetected, is likely to become more difficult, posing greater risks for traditional manned submarine operations. All of which has led some observers, such as Bryan Clark of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, to see submarine warfare on the brink of a 21st century transformation. In “The Emerging Era in Undersea Warfare,” published in January 2015, Clark, a former submariner and special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations, foresees a future in which increasingly expensive and vulnerable manned submarines remain at a distance, dispatching both UUVs and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to do increasingly nonlethal work. In the Information Age, the ability to destroy or degrade an adversary’s networking or signaling capabilities may be more important than firing missiles. The earliest experimental aerial and undersea drones have been fired from modified missile or torpedo tubes; in a 2013 evaluation, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory launched its Experimental Fuel Cell (XFC) UAV, a folding-wing mini-drone called the Sea Robin, from the torpedo tube of the USS Providence, a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine. When the Navy outlined its “Integrated Undersea Future Strategy” in 2011, it anticipated the need for more versatile “payload tubes” that could launch not only kinetic weapons but also alternative payloads such as the USS DELAWARE 97


that the award to Boeing had been expanded to include the fifth Orca.” Based on Boeing’s Echo Voyager UUV, the modular Orca weighs more than 50 tons and can range between 51 and 85 feet long, depending on insertion of a payload section of up to 34 feet. It has a range of more than 6,500 nautical miles and can launch from a port rather than having to be carried by a mothership. The Navy’s plans for Orca are ambitious, beginning with a suite of sensors potentially expanding to minehunting and minelaying duties, and from there to possibly carrying torpedoes and other weapons. This new role for the manned submarine – a kind of undersea mothership for the tools and technologies that will engage adversaries up close, and a covert intelligence node receiving and distributing sensor data and teaming with other distributed assets – may be difficult, at first, for traditional submariners to accept. But the sustained mutual deterrence of the Cold War is evidence that the world’s military leaders have learned the lessons their predecessors often failed to grasp during the world wars: Naval warfare is in constant flux, and to underestimate the disruptive potential of the submarine, regardless of the nature of the conflict, is to risk all.

USS Triton (SSN 586) was designed as a radar picket submarine, and featured two nuclear reactors, two screws, a knife-edge bulbous bow, and the largest sail ever for an American submarine to house its large radar dish. Triton completed the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe in May 1960.


XFC or recoverable undersea vehicles. Soon afterward, it introduced the expanded Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which will ultimately triple the number of launch tubes on future generations of Virginia-class submarines, beginning with Block V. “To sustain its undersea advantage well into this century,” wrote Clark, “the U.S. Navy must accelerate innovation in undersea warfare by reconsidering the role of manned submarines and exploiting emerging technologies to field a new ‘family of undersea systems.’” While submarines undoubtedly will gain capability in launching and recovering small unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles, the Navy is developing medium, large, and extra large unmanned underwater vehicles, in the latter case through the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) program. According to a Congressional Research Service report, “The XLUUV program, also known as Orca, was established to address a Joint Emergent Operational Need (JEON) …The Navy … announced on Feb. 13, 2019, that it had selected Boeing to fabricate, test, and deliver the first four Orca XLUUVs and associated support elements. … On March 27, 2019, the Navy announced