|Navy SEALS and Submarines Run Silent
|Many military veterans and civilians are familiar with Hollywood movies about submarine warfare. Movies like "Run Silent, Run Deep", "The Enemy Below", and "Das Boot" have been indelibly carved into the minds and spirits of submariners as well as civilian movie audiences for decades. However, while they are not typically discussed much anymore, submarines and submariners are alive and well.
One of the most famous submarines in history, the Trident-class nuclear powered submarine called the USS Ohio, has been converted from a nuclear to a conventional cruise missile submarine. The Ohio has traded her nuclear tipped missiles for more conventional missiles as well as some very special, though dangerous cargo.
The SS Ohio's gigantic proportions are an intimidating sight. At 560 feet long, the 42-foot beam structure dwarfs a human being. To put it into perspective, picture a huge "tube" just over one and a half football fields in length. The submarine can hold over 150 personnel, including "temporary" passengers.
Who are these "temporary" passengers? Highly skilled and trained commandoes able to breech all types of defenses. Stealth is the name of the game in submarine warfare, and the basic rules of engagement haven't changed much since the first submarine, The USS Hunley, was designed in the Civil War. That basic rule: Sneak up on an enemy without them even knowing you're there. The specialty of such skill and training is personified in Navy SEALs, and they have become part of the USS Ohio's special crew, for very special reasons.
Captain Andy Hale commands the USS Ohio, and while the route and mission of the submarine is secret, the world watches with bated breath to even catch a glimpse of her. She rises in unexpected places; as do the Navy SEALs she carries.
Many people don't even think of submarines any more, not with long-range missiles and the land warfare that has gripped the country since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and even before. Yet, the submarine is a vital force in the arsenal of the United States. Countries around the world, especially in Asia, covet them.
Navy Seals Secret Missions Run Deep!
The USS Ohio, like the special contingent of Navy SEALs she carries, vanishes without a trace, leaving only a bubbling wake behind, gone in moments. "Submarines are the original stealth platform," explains Captain Hale. He takes pride in his vessel, which can deploy at a moment's notice, and, as the movie title goes, she can run silent and run deep for as long as necessary.
Her special crew members are likewise deployed at a moment's notice. One may wonder how Navy SEALs get from the submarine to their target. The USS Ohio is a former "Boomer" nuclear missile sub that is equipped with two dozen launch tubes. Those launch tubes are now fitted to deploy Navy SEALs in submersible boats. Cool, eh?
SEALs are known for their ability to strike fast and hard, and then disappear. The USS Ohio and others like her offer a new way for SEALs to be deployed wherever they are needed; Korea, Afghanistan, China.
SEALs are training hard everywhere around the world. They are there, and will continue to "be there" because that is what they do best. They're perfectly happy that few know where they are at any given moment, or what they are doing. After all, the ultimate goal of a SEAL is to appear where he is least expected, do his job, quickly and effectively, and then disappear again.
In a way, SEALs are much like their submarine counterpart; secretive, mysterious and deadly. Like the "wolf pack" U-Boats during the Second World War, they run beneath the surface of the water, deep in the black ocean depths where they can avoid most forms of detection. The USS Ohio can dive to a depth of nearly 1,000 feet and reach speeds of over 20 knots, as compared to the 4 knots produced by her peers in the German navy during World War Two.
"The advanced capabilities that we have brought to this ship make it a premier front-line submarine. This has taken the submarine force to a while new level, "says Lieutenant Commander Al Ventura, the Ohio's Executive Officer.
Nearly every Asian nation in the world has submarines, or desperately wants a few. That includes Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and India, as well as China and Japan. Very few have the capability or the force to pose a threat to the American fleet, but the United States is not taking chances. American presence in Pacific waters is going to be noticed, no doubt about it.
The biggest concern for the United States used to be Russia, but these days, China is a major factor when it comes to watchful wariness. China now has roughly five dozen submarines in their fleet, and while that appears to be a high number, their capabilities as well as the experience of their crews don't match those of the United States.
Unlike American subs, Chinese subs are typically powered by diesel, much like the subs in World War Two. Also like their Second World War counterparts, they must frequently rise to the surface for air, as opposed to American subs, which are nuclear-powered and can remain at sea for months at a time.
In coming months, the USS Ohio is going to let her presence be felt in the Pacific, offering both the ship and her crew extensive training in joint exercises with her Asian allies. The USS Ohio has a right to be proud; she is able to elude detection and dive so fast and deep she can't be found. She is an awesome example of power and stealth.
The same can be said of her Navy SEALs.
It's a match made in heaven, really.