The Effectiveness of the Attack Submarine in the Direct Support Role

PSAD-77-89: Published: Apr 29, 1977. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1977.

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The direct support role of the attack submarine lies in performing antisubmarine warfare operations in support of U.S. surface-ship operations.

In this direct support role, the nuclear attack submarine does add to the capability of other systems in the surface force by being able to detect enemy submarines at long range. Operational limitations exist which have a severe impact on its effectiveness, and, as a result, the question is raised as to whether direct support could be more effectively provided by other systems in development. The Navy plans to achieve and maintain a force level of 90 attack submarines, a large part of which is justified for its direct support role. The remainder of the force is justified on the basis of two roles: blockading of enemy submarines, and the searching out and destroying of submarines patrolling shipping areas. If the submarine is only marginally effective in the support role, the need for such a force level is questioned.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Department of Defense (DOD) should be required to demonstrate the effectiveness of the nuclear attack submarine in the direct support role and determine whether more cost-effective alternatives are available. DOD should also demonstrate that the costs to achieve desired design improvements are commensurate with expected gains in mission effectiveness.

    Agency Affected:


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