US Navy Begins Design Evaluation for a new Submarine Tracking Ship

A U.S. shipyard is proceeding with initial studies and design evaluation for a new generation of advanced ocean surveillance vessels for detecting and tracking submarines, with the first ship to be delivered in 2025. The yard also built the U.S. Navy’s last ocean surveillance ship, the USNS Impeccable, which was threatened and harassed by Chinese planes, ships, and paramilitary militia vessels in a high-profile South China Sea incident 2009.

By Steven Stashwick

The existing unarmed research vessels make an outsized contribution to the U.S. Navy’s anti-submarine capabilities. By trailing sensitive listening equipment on miles-long cables behind them called the Surface Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS), the vessels are able to detect and then help track submarines from great distances, and then provide that data to other ships, planes, or submarines. Their unusual catamaran design provides stability in rough seas and reduces the sound transmitted into the water by the ship’s machinery.

The U.S. Navy’s small fleet of five ocean surveillance ships will begin to reach the end of their service lives in 2025, when the first of the new generation is expected to be delivered. The Navy may ultimately buy six or seven of the new vessels, underscoring their importance to maintaining the United State’s undersea edge in the Western Pacific.

Former Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris described the U.S. Navy’s undersea superiority as its most important asymmetric military advantage over China in the region. READ MORE HERE