New London (CT) Day September 19, 2004
'Silent Hammer' Exercise To Test New Sub Warfare Model
By Robert A. Hamilton
Special Forces Troops, Drones Will Take Part
As the Navy continues to convert its oldest Tridents for conventional and special warfare roles, “Silent Hammer,” an exercise planned off San Diego next month will provide the most rigorous test yet of the concept.
The USS Georgia (www.georgia.navy.mil/) will deploy with a full team of Navy Seals, will operate a variety of drones, will test advanced communications capabilities and make the first use of equipment that will give the so-called SSGN submarines unprecedented flexibility in terms of weapons and sensors.
“It's great to be involved in the cutting edge technology and capability that we're hoping to bring to the Navy, and really to the joint forces, because once the joint forces see what we can bring to the battle a lot of people are going to be asking for her,” said Cmdr. David M. Duryea, program manager for the advanced submarine systems development office at Naval Sea Systems Command.
Duryea said he expects more than 800 people will be involved in the Exercise, slated for early October out of Naval Base Point Loma.
The SSGN concept involves converting the four oldest Trident missile submarines, which normally carry 24 large nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, to conventional uses. Electric Boat in Groton, which built all the Tridents, is also doing the conversions.
The initial configuration will allow them to carry more than 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles and up to 66 Seals for special operations, but equipment to be tested in Silent Hammer could open the payload to a much wider range of weapons and sensors.
Duryea was captain of the USS Florida last year during Giant Shadow, a more limited version of the exercise he is coordinating this year.
For instance, in 2003 Florida had a few commandoes on board, but the Seal battle center was aboard a surface ship, the Mary Sears, that was part of the exercise.
“This time we have a full Seal operating contingent on the Georgia, and the battle management center is installed on the ship,” Duryea said. “And it's a significantly more robust battle management center than was even dreamed about on the Sears.”
The Georgia has been equipped with a high-data-rate communications system that will allow it to control a Sabreliner jet that will be operated as a drone, and receive data from the Paul Revere, an Air Force aircraft that simulates space-based radar transmissions.
“This allows us to work on the jointness, to work on coordinating the capabilities that both platforms can bring to the joint forces commander,” Duryea said.
The exercise will also serve as the first test of the Flexible Payload Module, an insert in one of the missile tubes that will serve as an interface between the submarine and whatever is inside the module. For this test, it will be loaded with the Stealthy Affordable Capsule System, which was developed to bring a variety of missiles or drones to the surface so they can be air-launched.
Both devices were just concepts a few years ago, Duryea said. He said during his 21 years in the Navy, he has never seen technology develop so rapidly.
“It really is pretty amazing how quickly we've been able to get from the concept to actually putting hardware out to sea,” Duryea said. “It's a real testament to the teamwork between Navsea, the fleet, and the defense industry, who worked very hard to make this happen.”
Official US Navy Silent Hammer web page:
Sea Trial Experiment “Silent Hammer”
By Naval Sea Systems Command and Team Submarine Public Affairs
WASHINGTON -- The Undersea Technology Directorate (SEA 073) of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) plans to conduct a Sea Trial Limited Objective Experiment, "Silent Hammer", Oct. 4-14 off the coast of San Diego.
Using a network of participants, which includes SEA 073, Naval Submarine Forces, Naval Warfare Development Command, and Submarine Group Nine, as well as other fleet units and teams of industry and academic naval researchers, "Silent Hammer" will test and evaluate the latest joint warfighting capabilities.
The principal objective of “Silent Hammer” is to show how a network of forces consisting of special operational forces (SOF), sea-based on an SSGN, can work together to fill Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Time Sensitive Strike requirements. This will be accomplished by conducting large-scale clandestine operations, aided by advanced unmanned systems, to reduce risk, and increase capabilities.
The USS Georgia (SSGN 729), additional attack submarines (SSNs), a SEAL Delivery Vehicle, two Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surrogates, and various U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force air assets are scheduled to participate in "Silent Hammer", which is to be coordinated with another Sea Trial Experiment, "Trident Warrior", being conducted during the same time frame in the Southern California Operating Areas adjacent to San Clemente Island, Calif.
USS Georgia, with an embarked Task Force Commander (TFC) and SOF, will be "Silent Hammer's" clandestine platform, serving as the base from which logistic and command and control operations will be conducted.
USS Georgia will also have a demonstration Battle Management Center (BMC) installed. The BMC will allow the TFC access to real-time ISR information and command and control capabilities that will support time sensitive strike missions, while staying connected to the Global Information Grid for higher command interaction.
Many other advanced technologies and capabilities will be demonstrated during "Silent Hammer," and each will be evaluated as required by Sea Trial. "Silent Hammer" will continue the spiral development of universal encapsulation, the technology that will provide for the future, affordable deployment of unmanned sensors.
Another technology to be tested is the Flexible Payload Module, installed in one of USS Georgia’s missile tubes, which will release a Stealthy Affordable Capsule (SAC) containing an inert test shape simulating a real UAV. This SAC effort is the second in a planned series of SSGN Payloads and Sensors Demonstrations that will test SSGN's capability to employ unmanned technologies.
High speed and special communications, overhead and ground ISR operations, time sensitive strike operations, and SOF delivery are among the myriad of other technologies, and capabilities being integrated into "Silent Hammer".
"Silent Hammer" will provide real time data for improved capabilities offered by the SOF and SSGN team with access to a plethora of off-board assets to conduct and support extended littoral, terrestrial and strike operations. A carefully conceived data collection and analysis plan will ensure that the contributions provided by new capabilities and technologies are thoroughly evaluated, providing the Navy with the information needed to support investment decisions in the future.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
SEAL teams will enjoy use of Navy's newest tool
''The SSGN is an example of the Navy'sinnovative transformation that supports our joint warfighters. With well over 20 yearsof life remaining, the SSGN conversion will significantly increase the strike capability and the flexibility of our special forces.''
By JOC David Nagle
Naval Sea Systems Command public affairs
During the nation's war on terrorism, Navy SEALs have been the force of choice for a variety of missions, from direct action in the mountains of Afghanistan to boarding ships in the Arabian Gulf.
As the Navy shapes itself to support future conflicts, it does so realizing special warfare will continue to play an increasingly greater role.
With that idea in mind, the Navy is converting four ballistic-missile submarines to guided-missile submarines, or SSGNs. In addition to their ability to launch conventional weapons, the SSGNs will also provide Navy Special Operations Forces the ability to conduct clandestine missions for extended periods of time.
The SSGN conversion program was designed using the Navy SEAL motto ''to equip the man, not man the equipment.'' And while the SSGN is bigger than the usual ''tool'' in the SEAL toolbox, it provides a bigger than usual payoff for the Navy's elite warriors.
''The SSGN increases our arsenal and our ability to fight,'' said Chief Warrant Officer William Snow, a Navy SEAL working on the SSGN project. ''It brings a lot more flexibility and a lot more fight for the Navy as a whole.''
Navy SOF have operated from submarines since World War II. However, because of the limited space aboard the smaller fast-attack submarines, SEALs found themselves sleeping and working wherever they could find an empty spot.
Because skills degrade quickly in such a confined environment, SEAL on-station time aboard current Navy submarines is also limited. But, with special operations support as a primary role of the SSGNs, all that is about to change.
''This is a good platform to work off,'' said GM1(SEAL) Dan Mick of Naval Special Warfare Group 4 in Norfolk, Va. ''The SSGN offers a lot more comfort and more space to work and train than the fast attacks did.''
SSGNs can support 60-plus SEALs - more than double the amount a fast-attack submarine can support. The SSGN will be configured to support either the Advanced SEAL Delivery System or the SEAL Delivery Vehicle, which can clandestinely insert SEALs into different areas. In addition, the SSGN will feature improved communications capability and the ability to launch and recover unmanned underwater vehicles that can be used to resupply SEALs operating in the area.
In order to support SEALs for a sustained period of time, the SSGNs will also be equipped with additional exercise and cardiovascular equipment and a virtual reality laser weapons range to allow SEALs to maintain their targeting skills and distance vision in the tight confines of submarines.
Giant Shadow, an exercise conducted in January, gave NSWG-4 SEALs an opportunity to learn about the capabilities the SSGN would provide them.
The conflicts of the future won't be the same as they are today, Snow added. While the technology offered by the SSGN will provide an increased advantage, human beings are still more important than the hardware.
''Future conflicts will require someone with ''eyes on'' to deliver information that can tell the decision makers what is going on,'' Snow said. ''We can help in that regard.''
Naval Special Warfare is already postured for a consistent presence around the world. The SSGN will give these global warriors another tool to maintain that presence, anywhere, anytime.
Why haven't we developed a boost-phase anti-missle missle for deployment in the Trident? It seems like a natural, considering how much we spent for those boats and how many missle tubes on them are empty now. Use a Global Hawk on station for the launch detection work and datalink it directly to the Trident.
The problem is with depth and detection. Not to mention continuous tracking and the data link would have to be crystal clear, which is difficult when the recieving unit is under water. The Global Hawk would have to have not only a launch detection capability, but a Fire Control quality radar to track the missile and one hell of a data link system, also of fire control quality.
Issue Date: October 04, 2004
Special (ops) delivery
Subs experiment with becoming SEAL platforms
By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer
ABOARD THE USS GEORGIA — For several weeks in October, the ballistic submarine Georgia will shed a piece of its Cold War past and transform itself into a front-line tool in the ongoing war on terror.
The “Silent Hammer” experiment, the latest Sea Trial initiative, will look at how Navy SEAL and other commando forces can conduct large-scale, extended clandestine missions while operating off a guided-missile submarine.
The Georgia and three other Ohio-class fleet ballistic missile submarines — Ohio, Florida and Michigan — are being refueled and converted to multimission SSGNs over the next three years.
At a price of $1 billion apiece, the overhaul and refueling will enable these behemoth subs to carry and fire as many as 154 Tomahawk missiles and manage a covert battle from below the sea. Two of the sub’s 24 missile tubes will hold canisters where commandos can work and shower. Lockout chambers will provide access to a dry-dock shelter and the new Advanced SEAL Delivery System each submarine will carry. And a modular system of capsules could carry unmanned vehicles or any joint weapons required for an operation.
“This is great value for the nation,” said Capt. Willy Hilarides, Naval Sea Systems Command’s SSGN program manager.
For the “silent service,” which crossed the oceans in a deadly dance with Soviet boats, the presence of super-secret commando forces will expand its war fighting role on joint, strategic and tactical levels.
“We are the perfect poster child of transformation,” said Capt. J.W. Tammen Jr., Georgia’s commander. “This ship helped win the Cold War,” Tammen said. “These are the boats that could not be found.”
Silent Hammer is the second experiment involving the SSGN. In January 2003, the “Giant Shadow” experiment marked the first step toward operating with commandos.
Program officials note that Silent Hammer won’t involve a full SSGN-configured submarine, since none are available yet, said Cmdr. Dave Duryea, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Advanced Submarine Systems Development program manager.
Georgia will join Florida at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Va., for refueling and subsequent conversion. Ohio is in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Wash., for overhaul, and Michigan is undergoing refueling at Puget Sound, where conversion will begin in October.
Each submarine is getting a thicker superstructure and larger deck to support the ASDS and dry-dock shelters, “a major modification to the ship,” Hilarides said.
As centerpiece of Silent Hammer, Georgia is getting some modifications, including four new antennas and a Battle Management Center, pier-side at Point Loma Submarine Base in San Diego.
The Navy is redesigning missile tubes into modules configured for different payloads. Each multiple “all-up-round” canister launcher will house seven missiles, including new Tactical Tomahawks.
A special operations forces stowage canister will have several decks connected by ladders and provide workspace and storage for “a tractor trailer’s worth” of wet suits, diver equipment, lights and other gear, Hilarides said.
Showers, an ordnance breakout area and space to let wet suits dry also are planned. Other canisters will hold ordnance.
“We are actually bringing the entire range of ordnance the SOF community has in a properly configured magazine,” Hilarides said.
The submarines will get 66 new berths in extra space in the missile compartment, enough for a SEAL team.
“The goal of that capability is not just a single mission, but a campaign. You’ll be able to run a series of missions,” he said. “They’ll be able to come back from a mission, reconstitute, re-arm their guns, fix their scuba equipment, recharge their vehicles and then go back out.”
Lt. M. Taylor Clark, a Naval Special Warfare spokesman, said Silent Hammer represents “another of those capabilities that will help us expand our mission.”
“Naval special warfare is one of the premier fighting choices for the global war on terrorism,” Clark said, adding that it will further the SEALs’ mission “to define, fix and finish the enemy.”
The crew, meanwhile, is getting their hands around new technology, weapons and shipmates.
“This is the future of submarines,” said Chief Missile Technician (SS) Marlin Gibson, 48, standing in the Battle Management Center as it takes shape. “As the world changes, we get to change our equipment to match it.”
Butler said he’s thrilled to see his Tridents play a bigger, different role. People one day, he said, will say, “Hey, they can do a lot more than they used to do.”
A submarine’s confines mean limited space, little privacy and a finite stock of food. Add a SEAL team, or any combination of hungry commandos, and space and food quickly disappear.
“It’s going to be very interesting for us, just having them onboard,” said Lt. Alexander T. Baerg, 26, a weapons officer. “It’s going to be a whole lot different.”
“They will bring a whole new perspective on things,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class (SS) Richard Butler, 39, who’s helping prepare for the shipyard period.
Although their bunks will be separate from crew berthing, SEALs and other SOF men will share the mess deck and dine together. Their presence will change the boat environment.
“If for nothing else,” said Gibson, “it gets pretty boring on a submarine.”