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Meeting the Submarine Challenge: A Short History of the Naval Underwater Systems Center.

Merrill, John and Lionel D. Wyld. Meeting the Submarine Challenge: A Short History of the Naval Underwater Systems Center. U.S. Gov't. Print. Office, 1997. 329pp. (no price given)

The Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUSC) was formed in 1970 by merging the Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory at New London, Connecticut, with the Navy Underwater Weapons Research and Engineering Station at Newport, Rhode Island. In 1992, NUSC ceased to exist as an entity, absorbed by the newly created Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The twenty-two years of its life included the most intense period of competition between the Soviet Union and the United States in the undersea cold war. Meeting the Submarine Challenge documents the role of NUSC in that competition.

NUSC was the Navy organization primarily responsible for the research and development of submarine sonar, combat (fire) control, weapons, and electromagnetic systems, as well as for surface-ship sonar and torpedo systems. To support these efforts NUSC also developed computerized warfare and systems analysis, test and experimentation ranges, and an organization to keep the laboratory's technology base current. The book devotes a chapter to each major area; it provides some pre-NUSC history for context.

The documentation of the evolution of submarine combat and sensor systems starts with the earliest units, around the beginning of the twentieth century, through the advances of both world wars, into the Cold War. Particular attention is given to the development of the AN/BQQ-2, AN/BQS-6/13, AN/BQQ-5/6, towed array, and wide-aperture-array sonar systems. A similar treatment is presented for fire control systems, with primary emphasis on the Mark 113 series and the Mark 117/118 systems. With the advent of the Combat Control System Mark 1 (CCS Mk 1), sonar, fire control, and weapons control all began to merge into integrated systems, culminating with the development of the AN/BSY-1 and 2 systems. The history of surface ship antisubmarine system development includes the SQS-26 sonar, variable-depth sonar, the Light Airborne Multipurpose System (LAMPS), towed arrays, and the SQQ-89 sonar and fire control integrated combat system.

The chapter on submarine electromagnetic systems covers the entire field: communications antennae (buoyant cable, towed buoy, and mast mounted); periscopes and their capabilities; and electronic support measures. The chapter on weapons systems details the evolution of torpedoes and launchers, including submarine-launched weapons through the Mark 48 Advanced Capability torpedo, and surface-launched and air- launched torpedoes through the Mark 50 Advanced Lightweight Torpedo. Antisubmarine missiles (Asroc and Subroc), submarine-launched antisurface missiles (Harpoon and Tomahawk), and Tomahawk land-attack missiles also are chronicled.

Of course, the development of technologically advanced undersea warfighting systems requires a parallel and substantial support infrastructure, and this book provides full coverage of NUSC's capabilities. The test ranges and facilities at the Tongue of the Ocean in the Bahamas, Newport, Fishers Island (Long Island), Dodge Pond (near Niantic, Connecticut), Seneca Lake (New York), Bermuda, and others are discussed, along with their specific capabilities and functions. Additional chapters detail NUSC's efforts to acquire capabilities in computer analysis and simulation.

Just as important as the technology were the individuals responsible for it. This book names those people, some of whom are little known outside their respective fields, while others are immediately recognized as giants in the submarine technology world. It is entirely appropriate that they are all given credit for their accomplishments. The world in general will never know of their contributions to the national security of the United States during one of its most trying periods, but those of us who went to sea at least will know who it was that kept us ahead of the competition.

Meeting the Submarine Challenge is not a primer; it will not be easily accessible to the novice. While each chapter could easily be expanded into a book of its own, the authors have done an admirable job of including only that information necessary for the task at hand--a chronicle of NUSC's achievements. Every page is packed with important details; very little fundamental theory or explanation is offered.

John Merrill is a former head of the NUSC Submarine Electromagnetics Systems Department, and Lionel D. Wyld is a former head of the NUSC Technical Writing Division. Their credentials are impeccable, and their technical bent is reflected in a no-nonsense, "just the facts, ma'am," writing style. Meeting the submarine Challenge is highly recommended for those who have sufficient background in the subject matter.
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:Naval War College Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 2000
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