09V/09VI (095/096) Nuclear Submarine Thread


BoeingEngineer

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Registered Member
Now consider:

The difference in noise level between SSN-774 (Virginia) and SSN-751 (Improved Los Angeles) is given as 13dB. For passive sonar 15dB difference results in maximum detection distance of thirty-one meters.

The difference in noise level between SSN-774 and SSN-688 (Los Angeles) is given as 18dB. For passive sonar 20dB difference results in maximum detection distance of one hundred meters.

The difference in noise level between SSN-774 and SSN-637 (Sturgeon) is given as 35dB. For passive sonar 35dB difference results in maximum detection distance of three kilometers.

That's how submarines see their targets. You see where I am going with it? If not then here's the answer:

The reason why American submarines could hunt Soviet submarines was because until the end of the cold war NATO held significant technological advantage over Soviet submarines that was decisive. American subs were so much quieter and American sonars so much better than American subs could play "air battles" with Soviet subs and Soviets countered it with speed or diving depth.

The ideas for stealth aircraft came from studies of submarine tactics. But that advantage came from significant difference in noise levels and sonar capabilities. Once Soviets matched it - with Improved Akula - scenarios such as "The Hunt for the Red October" were no longer possible. Instead what you get is the British and French SSBNs crashing into each other because neither could hear the other until it was too late.

There is some space for maneuver with conformal and flank array sonars and increasing sonar gain in tower arrays but once noise levels gets cut to background noise level - standard is 90dB - submarines become effectively invisible to passive detection because they become quieter than the sea itself.

The reason why there's a SSN with every carrier group is because that's how you can keep a towed array hidden at depth to counter disturbances caused by thermal layers and other environmental factors. A surface ship can also drag a TASS but it can be spotted by long-range detection while a submarine can't. So the sub is a stealthy way to put a passive sensor ahead of the group or keep it at 200-300m depth while the surface ASW escort has it at 50-100m.

The main reason for having nuclear submarines is the ability to quickly (in nautical terms - at 15-20 knots) move an asset from one place to another without revealing its location to sensors other than passive sonar - so no satellites, no patrol aircraft, no radar etc. Then they lay in wait like snipers. That's what subs are - snipers. Not berserkers running naked into battle.

Because of that to counter US submarines PLAN has surface ships and aviation and not submarines. Submarines are offensive weapons and ambush tools. If you want to think about competition between USN and PLAN in this field you have to rethink your entire understanding of which naval asset does what.

As for China being unable to match US and Russia on technical level, that is soon going to be in the past as well.

What you need to know is what causes the greatest reduction in noise levels:
  • quality of manufacturing of key mechanical elements,
  • ability to measure and model ship noise in practice,
The reason why Soviet subs were significantly louder before USSR acquired numerical machine tools which introduced greater precision and quality for moving parts and propellers. It happened in the 70s and 80s and those revolutionary tools which resulted in noise reduction from Victor III levels to Improved Akula levels are antiques compared to modern industrial machinery. Improved Akula is inferior to latest US SSNs but it nevertheless is a threat that requires that the submarine be deployed to counter it.

So the only thing that China needs is time to learn. They needed to catch up with the 70s, 80s and 90s while having equipment and computing power of the 00s and 10s and the Soviet case study to learn from.

USS San Juan (SSN-751) was laid down in 1982 and entered service in 1988. Considering the production rate of the boats in the class it means that its mechanical design is the product of late 70s and its electronics including sonar was the product of early 80s with minor updates until the MLU overhaul in 2010. If PLAN had San Juan type of submarine it would be a nightmare for USN. Even if the advantage is still on American side San Juan forces USN to go into the field and do the hard work.

PLAN doesn't need to match USN sub for sub and dB for dB. It needs to be able to put to sea a fleet of 20 or 30 "good enough" SSNs and keep the production line going for the next generation of vessels and USN is in deep trouble with current numbers. Anything more or better and it's a completely novel situation that the USN has never been in before.

And this is why USN is so desperately trying to get more Virginias or wants XLUUVs. Because the submarine game is a numbers and positions game, not a "one good swordsman is worth ten bad ones." If it was then USN would be gunning for top performance at the expense of numbers and it isn't.

Markoz81, could you comment on this ?

"The sale of the Toshiba propeller milling machinery to the Soviets, and other submarine intelligence furnished by the Walker spy ring resulted in significantly quieter Soviet subs by the later part of the decade. As writer Neal Stevens wrote about the Akula-class Soviet boats, "The combined results generated a steep drop in broadband acoustic noise profiles." Prior to this betrayal of the Western Alliance, NATO antisubmarine warfare specialists could pick up the sounds of Soviet submarines from 200 miles away, or roughly the distance from Washington to New York). After the Toshiba incident, the distance decreased to 10 miles."

:eek:

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MarKoz81

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Registered Member
Markoz81, could you comment on this ?

"The sale of the Toshiba propeller milling machinery to the Soviets, and other submarine intelligence furnished by the Walker spy ring resulted in significantly quieter Soviet subs by the later part of the decade. As writer Neal Stevens wrote about the Akula-class Soviet boats, "The combined results generated a steep drop in broadband acoustic noise profiles." Prior to this betrayal of the Western Alliance, NATO antisubmarine warfare specialists could pick up the sounds of Soviet submarines from 200 miles away, or roughly the distance from Washington to New York). After the Toshiba incident, the distance decreased to 10 miles."

:eek:

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The proper place for such question is Ask anything Thread in Members' Club Room.

Since this already constitutes an OT my comment would be:

Sensationalism for commercial purposes aimed at audiences that seek simplistic and preferably political answers to complex technical problems. In other words your average Tom Clancy readers and online "military experts".

The technological gap was in fact greater than the quote suggests but the problem was also more complex and can't be reduced to such simple statements. It was all about the strategy and logistics of anti-submarine warfare.

The gap was the result of the US being an established maritime and industrial power as well as a sonar technology pioneer while USSR was undergoing industrialization, building a shipbuilding industry and developing a navy at the same time. The US was at technological peak in terms of submarine technology between 1940 and 1970 while the USSR was really just starting. The USN had in 1950s a large fleet of capable SSKs: approx. 200 of Gato, Balao and Tench subs each with displacement of 1500t surfaced and 2400t full which were being modernized in GUPPY programs and could focus on developing new technology. Soviet Navy finished WW2 with approx 100 medium SSKs with 600-800t surface displacement and approx. 80 small subs of 150t. They had to first build a conventional fleet of submarines before they began developing new things. And because USSR was a land power and not a sea power it first chose to build better versions of those two classes - Whiskey/Romeo and Quebec - before correcting and building the Foxtrot which had outdated inefficient design. All that time and effort went into mass-producing low quality submarines that had to be replaced by better quality submarines almost immediately.

Example: The first Soviet SSN - November-class built between 1957 and 1963 - was a large traditional two-screw SSK with a nuclear reactor instead. At the same time USN already had 6 SSNs and was building modern hull SSNs - Skipjack and Thresher classes. Those were followed by large production run of Sturgeons which were very capable in their own right, and then by Los Angeles. Soviet Novembers were built to simply have SSNs and test the propulsion and develop tactics. They were less about having a SSN than having a SSN to develop ASW. Victor I, II and III were built between 1963 and 1991 and they were the proper "learning curve" class which tested all the other technology and resulted in the first Akula in 1983-1984.

1960-1980 is the period of a quantum leap for USSR and they only acquired the machines because it was the clear cost-benefit shortcut considering the lack of electronics industry. In all other areas - including sonar - USSR made advancements on its own simply because they started investing in the respective fields of research and manufacturing. Lack of electronics industry would hit them a decade later and the biggest shock would come in the air but it never got to that. Walker was an irrelevant random alarm bell that was bound to happen sooner or later due to the sheer scale of espionage on both sides. In the US it became a convenient excuse for more fearmongering because USSR never caught up with the USN in terms of submarine capabilities. A handful of new quiet submarines was just one aspect of the problem.

And now to finish off by tying this OT comment to the thread's topic so it's not a blatant OT:

The same people who consume such sensationalized edutainment as quoted above often point to it as evidence that China will lag behind the US. Except the only area which held the Soviets back - lack of civilian industrial base for developing of economies of scale which forced them to purchase the machines - is China's advantage over the US. Everything else needs money to pay for time of people doing the problem-solving.

Type 09I was Victor I with perhaps November quality of technology in 1970-1974.

First November was built 1954-57.
First Victor was built 1963-1967.
First Akula was built 1983-1984.

That's a 30 years' gap between first SSN and first "peer" SSN and 20 years' gap between first "learning curve" SSN and "peer" SSN.

Type 09III has been in service since 2002 which is sufficient for 20 years of learning curve. By Cold War standards Type 09V should be ready for production.

So why is nothing happening? I think one simple answer is: because it's easy to build new submarines with unlimited budgets like the US and USSR did and hard to build them while not overspending yourself into an economic crisis like US and USSR did. My impression is that China is trying to go for "lean manufacturing" on both 09VI and 09V for that reason but that makes it economically prudent which is a gain in its own terms.
 

BoeingEngineer

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Registered Member
The proper place for such question is Ask anything Thread in Members' Club Room.

Since this already constitutes an OT my comment would be:

Sensationalism for commercial purposes aimed at audiences that seek simplistic and preferably political answers to complex technical problems. In other words your average Tom Clancy readers and online "military experts".

The technological gap was in fact greater than the quote suggests but the problem was also more complex and can't be reduced to such simple statements. It was all about the strategy and logistics of anti-submarine warfare.

The gap was the result of the US being an established maritime and industrial power as well as a sonar technology pioneer while USSR was undergoing industrialization, building a shipbuilding industry and developing a navy at the same time. The US was at technological peak in terms of submarine technology between 1940 and 1970 while the USSR was really just starting. The USN had in 1950s a large fleet of capable SSKs: approx. 200 of Gato, Balao and Tench subs each with displacement of 1500t surfaced and 2400t full which were being modernized in GUPPY programs and could focus on developing new technology. Soviet Navy finished WW2 with approx 100 medium SSKs with 600-800t surface displacement and approx. 80 small subs of 150t. They had to first build a conventional fleet of submarines before they began developing new things. And because USSR was a land power and not a sea power it first chose to build better versions of those two classes - Whiskey/Romeo and Quebec - before correcting and building the Foxtrot which had outdated inefficient design. All that time and effort went into mass-producing low quality submarines that had to be replaced by better quality submarines almost immediately.

Example: The first Soviet SSN - November-class built between 1957 and 1963 - was a large traditional two-screw SSK with a nuclear reactor instead. At the same time USN already had 6 SSNs and was building modern hull SSNs - Skipjack and Thresher classes. Those were followed by large production run of Sturgeons which were very capable in their own right, and then by Los Angeles. Soviet Novembers were built to simply have SSNs and test the propulsion and develop tactics. They were less about having a SSN than having a SSN to develop ASW. Victor I, II and III were built between 1963 and 1991 and they were the proper "learning curve" class which tested all the other technology and resulted in the first Akula in 1983-1984.

1960-1980 is the period of a quantum leap for USSR and they only acquired the machines because it was the clear cost-benefit shortcut considering the lack of electronics industry. In all other areas - including sonar - USSR made advancements on its own simply because they started investing in the respective fields of research and manufacturing. Lack of electronics industry would hit them a decade later and the biggest shock would come in the air but it never got to that. Walker was an irrelevant random alarm bell that was bound to happen sooner or later due to the sheer scale of espionage on both sides. In the US it became a convenient excuse for more fearmongering because USSR never caught up with the USN in terms of submarine capabilities. A handful of new quiet submarines was just one aspect of the problem.

And now to finish off by tying this OT comment to the thread's topic so it's not a blatant OT:

The same people who consume such sensationalized edutainment as quoted above often point to it as evidence that China will lag behind the US. Except the only area which held the Soviets back - lack of civilian industrial base for developing of economies of scale which forced them to purchase the machines - is China's advantage over the US. Everything else needs money to pay for time of people doing the problem-solving.

Type 09I was Victor I with perhaps November quality of technology in 1970-1974.

First November was built 1954-57.
First Victor was built 1963-1967.
First Akula was built 1983-1984.

That's a 30 years' gap between first SSN and first "peer" SSN and 20 years' gap between first "learning curve" SSN and "peer" SSN.

Type 09III has been in service since 2002 which is sufficient for 20 years of learning curve. By Cold War standards Type 09V should be ready for production.

So why is nothing happening? I think one simple answer is: because it's easy to build new submarines with unlimited budgets like the US and USSR did and hard to build them while not overspending yourself into an economic crisis like US and USSR did. My impression is that China is trying to go for "lean manufacturing" on both 09VI and 09V for that reason but that makes it economically prudent which is a gain in its own terms.

Thank you once again for the great reply.

So indeed the west likes to play up their tech and play down other people's hard work. This kind of nonsense keeps repeating and now it is China's turn. :rolleyes:
 

Han Patriot

Junior Member
Registered Member
The proper place for such question is Ask anything Thread in Members' Club Room.

Since this already constitutes an OT my comment would be:

Sensationalism for commercial purposes aimed at audiences that seek simplistic and preferably political answers to complex technical problems. In other words your average Tom Clancy readers and online "military experts".

The technological gap was in fact greater than the quote suggests but the problem was also more complex and can't be reduced to such simple statements. It was all about the strategy and logistics of anti-submarine warfare.

The gap was the result of the US being an established maritime and industrial power as well as a sonar technology pioneer while USSR was undergoing industrialization, building a shipbuilding industry and developing a navy at the same time. The US was at technological peak in terms of submarine technology between 1940 and 1970 while the USSR was really just starting. The USN had in 1950s a large fleet of capable SSKs: approx. 200 of Gato, Balao and Tench subs each with displacement of 1500t surfaced and 2400t full which were being modernized in GUPPY programs and could focus on developing new technology. Soviet Navy finished WW2 with approx 100 medium SSKs with 600-800t surface displacement and approx. 80 small subs of 150t. They had to first build a conventional fleet of submarines before they began developing new things. And because USSR was a land power and not a sea power it first chose to build better versions of those two classes - Whiskey/Romeo and Quebec - before correcting and building the Foxtrot which had outdated inefficient design. All that time and effort went into mass-producing low quality submarines that had to be replaced by better quality submarines almost immediately.

Example: The first Soviet SSN - November-class built between 1957 and 1963 - was a large traditional two-screw SSK with a nuclear reactor instead. At the same time USN already had 6 SSNs and was building modern hull SSNs - Skipjack and Thresher classes. Those were followed by large production run of Sturgeons which were very capable in their own right, and then by Los Angeles. Soviet Novembers were built to simply have SSNs and test the propulsion and develop tactics. They were less about having a SSN than having a SSN to develop ASW. Victor I, II and III were built between 1963 and 1991 and they were the proper "learning curve" class which tested all the other technology and resulted in the first Akula in 1983-1984.

1960-1980 is the period of a quantum leap for USSR and they only acquired the machines because it was the clear cost-benefit shortcut considering the lack of electronics industry. In all other areas - including sonar - USSR made advancements on its own simply because they started investing in the respective fields of research and manufacturing. Lack of electronics industry would hit them a decade later and the biggest shock would come in the air but it never got to that. Walker was an irrelevant random alarm bell that was bound to happen sooner or later due to the sheer scale of espionage on both sides. In the US it became a convenient excuse for more fearmongering because USSR never caught up with the USN in terms of submarine capabilities. A handful of new quiet submarines was just one aspect of the problem.

And now to finish off by tying this OT comment to the thread's topic so it's not a blatant OT:

The same people who consume such sensationalized edutainment as quoted above often point to it as evidence that China will lag behind the US. Except the only area which held the Soviets back - lack of civilian industrial base for developing of economies of scale which forced them to purchase the machines - is China's advantage over the US. Everything else needs money to pay for time of people doing the problem-solving.

Type 09I was Victor I with perhaps November quality of technology in 1970-1974.

First November was built 1954-57.
First Victor was built 1963-1967.
First Akula was built 1983-1984.

That's a 30 years' gap between first SSN and first "peer" SSN and 20 years' gap between first "learning curve" SSN and "peer" SSN.

Type 09III has been in service since 2002 which is sufficient for 20 years of learning curve. By Cold War standards Type 09V should be ready for production.

So why is nothing happening? I think one simple answer is: because it's easy to build new submarines with unlimited budgets like the US and USSR did and hard to build them while not overspending yourself into an economic crisis like US and USSR did. My impression is that China is trying to go for "lean manufacturing" on both 09VI and 09V for that reason but that makes it economically prudent which is a gain in its own terms.
You are assuming none were built for 20 years. J20s J35s Y20s even Fujian didn't suddenly just popped up overnight.
 

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