Contracting out aggressor work

SUBMARINES: Swedish Mercenaries Stalk U.S. Warships (10/08/2004 entry)

I’ve written before about the need to improve our anti-submarine warfare capabilities. In light of the growing Chinese sub force and the shinking of our own, it is imperative that we stay on top of this.

In the article about the Chinese threat I wrote

Maybe what we should do is pick up one or two good diesel boats from an ally and crew them with top-notch personnel as a red team in a sort of submarine Top Gun. Base one sub on each US coast, provide a team of trainers and advisers to work with ship and air crews, and practice like we want to play.

Instead of getting our own diesel boats, we’re considering hiring some:

Sweden’s submarines are all of very modern design and performance. Sweden pioneered AIP (Air Independent Propulsion.), which allows non-nuclear subs to stay underwater for weeks at a time. Moreover, AIP gear is quieter than nuclear propulsion (because the nuclear reactors need noise producing pumps going all the time to keep them from overheating.)

The United States wants to use the Swedish sub (Sweden only has five subs in service), and it’s crew, to help train American anti-submarine forces. The Swedish boat would be a “worst case” scenario, and this approach is preferred for training.

Who knows if this will go through? As the article mentions, the final decision will come down to political considerations.

In any event, I think this is a good idea. I’d still prefer to see some sort of permanent solution in place, but if we can get US sailors aboard those Swedish subs during the training, it could help us determine the right approach to being better prepared for what MO thinks is going to be a serious threat.

The article closes with

The Gotland class Swedish subs are small (200 feet long) and have a small crew of 25.

But that 200-foot boat with 25 guys aboard could keep a carrier strike group from operating when and where we want it to. Even the rumor of one of those 200-foot boats could cost us in a major way.

One thought, though: If we’re going to buy diesel subs from allies, think twice before making a down payment on a British UPHOLDER-class boat. Or at least keep the receipt.