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Submarines on the offence

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Submarines on the offence - 4/22/2015 11:25:08 AM   


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I am finding it very hard to hunt ships with submarines.

Even if approaching at max depth and 5knot creep, sonobuoys inevitably appear right smack on top of me before I get anywhere near.

For example, yesterday i was playing duellists as the Soviets. One of my subs (I forget which)fortuitously ended up almost directly in the path of the British Task Group, so I set him to creeping towards an intercept (max depth).

My sub detected a goblin about 10-ish miles away off his flank, it certainly seemed likely that I had detected him first. He was a ways off and I had aircraft to hand so I ordered my sub to full-stop, still at max depth. I vectored in a Tu-142 Bear who quickly dropped a couple of buoys, then a torp directly on top of the enemy contact, killing it.

Next thing I know, sonobuoys directly on top of my sub, followed shortly by torps, killing it too.

I would have thought that 5knot creep at max depth was the most stealthy I could be, but I am constantly having buoys dropped right on me.

Even at the beginning of the scenario, I had 3 SSNs spread out in the sea, well ahead of my SAG, so I sent them forward (again, max depth, 5 knot creep) - as i detected the SAG on radar, fortuitously my sub with long-range ASMs was almost in range so I stopped him and had him lie in wait. Not long after, sonobuoys started to drop all around, then a torp, and its killed.

How are my subs being detected so often. I have resorted to running in the opposite direction at flank speed from any possible threat (mainly buoys). This has increased the survival rate of my subs *slightly*, they still end up getting killed by pinpoint-accurate torp drops. If I try a stealthy evasion, the same things happens, just quicker.

I assume its not the enemy AI having cheaty access to my positions and that I have bad tactics somewhere.

How do I hunt ships properly?

How close to a fleet can I reasonably expect to get undetected?

When and where is a high-speed dash safe?

Under what circumstances can a sub creeping at 5knots be detected? (generally - I know it will vary by sub)

What is the point of "clearing the datum" (diving as deep as possible at flank speed) when detected or after having just fired torps/missiles - running away fast means being noisy, so noisy that everyone for miles will know where you are. Running away slowly means that the enemy has all the time in the world to mosey on to your last position and drop a few buoys, by which time you might be a whole 500 metres away.



< Message edited by p1t1o -- 4/22/2015 12:28:23 PM >
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/22/2015 12:34:25 PM   

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It's always going to be harder playing Russian submarines, unless they're diesel electric. Almost universally they were loud. You ought to assume you're going to be detected eventually. They also had fairly bad sonar themselves. It's rare for a Russian SSN to enjoy the first shot advantage, and MPA ought to be your most feared adversary. MPA will kill you faster than you even know you're being searched for.

Torpedo Tactics
For torpedoes to be effective you are best off waiting for the ships to come to you. Think of yourself as a mine with some ability to move around. If a SAG happens to be coming in your direction you will most likely be detected by the time you get close enough for a shot, so seize the opportunity quickly, you are probably not going to survive the attempt. Shoot in salvos of multiple torpedoes. Shoot 'em all if you see a CVN. Once you get off a torpedo shot, all kinds of chaos will ensue.


If you're firing your ASCMs from within the ship's air search radar range, then they know where you are immediately after firing the salvo. Depending on the ship, that might be quite a long distance away. If there's AWACs coverage, then it's even worse. Firing ASCMs from a long distance using external cuing probably improves your survivability, at the expense of the ASCM raid being less effective due to there being more opportunities to shoot at it. Shooting closer in makes the ASCMs more effective by denying shot opportunities at the cost of assuming more risk to yourself as you approach.

A high speed dash is never really safe. Clearing the datum is dangerous, but it's more preferable than staying put. Don't stop too soon. You want to be miles away from the original datum. Mark the location with a marker to keep track of where you shot.

Generally speaking, assume that if you have sonar contact with them, they have sonar contact with you. That's because the transmission loss from you to him is the same as from him to you. In fact, because they probably have better (Western) electronics, if you can see him on sonar he can almost certainly see you. Hence, for stealth, vary your depth now and then until you lose sonar contact. Once you find the depth where you lose sonar contact, develop a schedule. Change depth until you detect them every 10 or 20 minutes or so. Then, once you get a fix, disappear again. Repeat until you get close enough to make the attack you want.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 4/22/2015 1:38:19 PM >

(in reply to p1t1o)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/22/2015 2:48:56 PM   


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Thanks SeaQueen, that is quite enlightening.

So basically if I feel like being a sub commander today, the correct tactics are...choose NATO?

Im surprised, I thought that submarines were one of the few russian things that weren't roughly lashed together from scrapped AK47's.

Still I'd have thought that at 0 to 5 knots at max depth (especially at zero, I've had some maddening moments of being detected whilst sitting on the bottom...) that I would be fairly hard to detect, and might get a first-contact if the other guy is barelling along at 10 knots or so.

So tactically-wise, if I *have* to hunt in a russian sub, my best bet is to "quickly" get into an ambush position and wait for them to come to me, then sacrifice the sub in the ensuing battle, given that once I fire...anything...that it will be almost impossible for me to get away unless all targets are destroyed.

Is there anyone out there with a more optimistic view? Can anyone get reliable success with Russian subs? I havn't even attempted the "Best of the West, Worst of the East" scenario, anyone had notable success with that one? From what I've just read it seems like quite a challenge and have no idea how I would go about it.

It does make me feel quite chuffed that in the scenario described above, at one point I stumbled into the baffles of a British sub and was able to go to 10knots and start sneaking up behind him, whilst being confident that he couldn't hear me, as he was headed directly away and held course and speed (5 knots). I missed the chance of a sub-to-sub kill though as I had aircraft on hand, and vectored him in to make short work of the Brit. Would have been an almost textbook stalk and kill without my damned useful aircraft buzzing about.

I have re-read your comment, so, is it the case that its not *max* depth that gives you stealth but a *different* depth[band] than your opponent (allowing for things like ships towed arrays and such)?

If I get a sonobuoy dropped right on top of me, thats a prelude to death, clearly. But if one drops, say a couple of miles away, what is my best bet? Go deep and slow? Clear datum? Full stop? Should I vector directly away (and point my baffles at it)? Sidle by diagonally? I'm quietest from head-on, could pointing myself at an offending sonar be of any use?

**moar edit**

Sorry, last question: Does anybody know if there are any noise emissions associated with changing depth (so called "hull-popping" sounds)? If Im sitting on the bottom, nice and stealthy like, and rise to the layer as a ship approaches, is that going to give me away?

< Message edited by p1t1o -- 4/22/2015 3:59:34 PM >

(in reply to SeaQueen)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/22/2015 3:39:16 PM   


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Sorry, last question: Does anybody know if there are any noise emissions associated with changing depth (so called "hull-popping" sounds)? If Im sitting on the bottom, nice and stealthy like, and rise to the layer as a ship approaches, is that going to give me away?

Just quickly to help answer this one, its important to note that nuke boats make some amount of detectable noise even at zero speed as a result of the reactor needing coolant pumped constantly by big noisy coolant pumps. Early soviet designs (think prior to victor III and akula) were apparently notoriously bad in this area, I've heard them described not so flatteringly by former USN sonar operators as "about as loud as a threshing machine".

In comparison, a diesel-electric running on battery under these conditions is like trying to find a hole in the water and should be a lot more difficult.

Either way though, patrol aircraft are going to make survival really difficult. If its possible you really want to be trying to use what air assets you have available to make them go away, or avoid the buoy fields if you can. Sometimes you can kinda angle in from the side and get between the ASW patrol zone and the ships depending how the mission designer set things up, but its certainly not easy. This is one reason the USSR/Russia invested so heavily in things like the Oscar and Charlie class SSGNs that can safely sling heavyweight ASMs from well outside the detection zone.

(in reply to p1t1o)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/22/2015 7:02:04 PM   

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The older Soviet nuke boats were pretty horrible. November classes, for example, could be tracked from vast distances away. The newer ones (Victor III, Sierra, Akula) are a lot better thanks to the the Walker spy ring and the Toshiba-Konigsberg scandal. Even the Alfa, which was supposed to be super scary, turned out to not be so scary because it was horribly loud and a torpedo upgrade (ADCAP) killed it's ability to out run and out dive torpedoes.

I wouldn't say to sacrifice the submarine, although, bare in mind surface ships have a lot of advantages over submarines. I'd say you needed to be more cagey. It is true that max depth does not necessarily provide stealth. Depending on how far away you are and what the transmission loss looks like, you might actually be more detectable. There is such a thing called the "shadow zone" just under the isothermal layer which creates the surface duct. That's a good place to hide, and not necessarily a bad place to go for a first guess. If you get close enough, though, that plot might be foiled. As I said, if you can't see them, they're less likely to be able to see you, periodically pop up to periscope depth. Wait a bit while you form an ESM / periscope picture, if you detect something on sonar, dive until you lose contact, and approach it slowly to investigate. 10 or 20 minutes later, come up again, take a look around, see what happens, then disappear again. As you get closer, you might have to go a little deeper. It all depends.

Once you shoot, everything is going to go crazy. If it's a torpedo, most likely there will be counterfire. Ships will run in all kinds of directions to get away from the torpedo. If it's an ASCM that was detected at launch, helicopters and MPA are going to investigate the DATUM. Antisubmarine missiles (e.g. VLA) might be fired. Hide and run, don't press the attack. Let the torpedoes run out and missiles fly. Focus on survival.

"Hull popping" is probably something you don't need to worry about too much. I don't even know if it's modeled in the game.

Avoiding sonobuoy fields is hard because most likely some of the buoys will be above the layer and some below. The only thing you can do is stay in the shadow zone and try to stay quiet. I wouldn't stop, though, because the best thing you can do is put some distance between you and the buoy. If they're active buoys then you need to minimize your target strength by pointing directly towards or away from them. That should help make you less detectable, but doesn't save you entirely.

(in reply to p1t1o)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/23/2015 2:55:09 PM   


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A couple brief comments to add:

- In the game the best sonars usually listen below the layer (towed passive array), and hear very little above the layer. At the same time the sub's sonar range against surface ships is much better when above the layer. Two good reasons to stay above the layer when hunting ships. I am not sure if the shadow zone is modeled...

- On the other hand, if the opposition is using long range active sonar, such as SQS-26 or SQS-53, the approach must be made from below the layer when getting close to their active sonar range. That range can be well above 10 nm against shallow targets (even reaching the first CZ at times), but below 5 nm when the target is below the layer.

- Against very strong opposition, such as in my "Carrier Battle Group ASW test" scenario when played from the red side, I have had best success driving in at some speed as opposed to staying near stationary in ambush. I am a little surprised by this observation, I would not have expected that to be a good tactics It might have to do with sonobuoys and MAD detecting even a slow moving nuke if close enough, so if spending enough time in the danger zone eventual detection is unavoidable.

(in reply to SeaQueen)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/23/2015 3:04:33 PM   


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FWIW, here is an excerpt from some sonar detection range tests I did for fun some time back, in this case featuring a Spruance vs. a Victor I. It gives some idea about where not to be when approaching escorts. This was nine months ago so sonar modeling could have changed since.

Baseline: Sea state 3, no rain, water depth 12,000 – 6,000 ft. Spruance using active sonar.

Spruance conditions	Victor I conditions	        Detection  range (nm)	Detecting system
5 kt	                5 kt, shallow	                29.7	                SQS-53 (CZ)
5 kt	                5 kt, just under the layer	11.3	                SQR-18
5 kt	                15 kt, just over the layer	29.7	                SQS-53 (CZ)
5 kt	                15 kt, just under the layer	29.7	                SQR-18 (CZ)
5 kt	                22 kt, as deep as possible	29.7	                SQR-18 (CZ)
20 kt	                5 kt, shallow	                13.0	                SQS-53
20 kt	                5 kt, just under the layer	5.6	                SQR-18
20 kt	                15 kt, just over the layer	13.0	                SQS-53
20 kt	                15 kt, just under the layer	16.8	                SQR-18
20 kt	                22 kt, as deep as possible	29.7	                SQR-18 (CZ)

(in reply to FlyingBear)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/23/2015 6:38:59 PM   


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I am beginning to have doubts about the plausibility of submarine warfare in CMANO.... It is possible that it's just too difficult to be modeled realistically at this time..... Just to begin with… It is in a game mode.. for play benefit....

(in reply to FlyingBear)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/23/2015 7:14:19 PM   

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It all depends. Notice that the initial detection might be at a great distance, but it's completely possible to lose contact for a long period of time before picking it back up again (e.g. between a convergence zone detection and direct path). There are a lot of effects that are not captured in CMANO (e.g. surface duct cutoff frequency, warm and cold core eddies), and there are a lot that are. In some cases it's probably too optimistic, and in others it's probably too pessimistic. Since the real numbers are classified, it's impossible to make a real comparison.

Every video game involving submarines that I've seen was wrong, in the sense that it failed to accurately capture some effect which might be important under certain conditions, leading to optimistic or pessimistic detection ranges. I think that for a game, where the idea is to learn something about the kinds of decisions that real submarine officers make, the important thing is not so much the particulars of what the range is along a particular radian, at a particular sensor/target depth combination, with a particular sonar set, etc. so much as whatever the detection range happens to be, you need to react appropriately to the given circumstances.


I am beginning to have doubts about the plausibility of submarine warfare in CMANO.... It is possible that it's just too difficult to be modeled realistically at this time..... Just to begin with… It is in a game mode.. for play benefit....

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 4/23/2015 8:16:17 PM >

(in reply to magi)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/23/2015 7:20:08 PM   


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I no longer attempt to prosecute surface units in a well formed SAG with good ASW screen until I can do one or both of two things..... Have a a very good idea of its composition and disposition to find a possible weak point I can use for ingress.... And or.. With supporting air units destroy its ASW screen....
With sub versus sub... If I have the assets... Once my sub has detected an enemy sub I will use and air unit to destroy it..... I find successful submarine warfare to be really difficult to the game… It is possible that I just don't get it and I'm terrible at it…
One thing that I am doing often with submarines… Is going to periscope depth at full stop to gather information… I usually do so in poor visual conditions... They work really good for gathering Intel....

(in reply to magi)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/23/2015 9:14:52 PM   

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Game manual, page 132. Section 8.7 : "Understanding Depth Bands and the Thermal Layer"

Also page 134: "Convergence zones in Command"

< Message edited by Sunburn -- 4/24/2015 1:29:58 PM >


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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/24/2015 12:28:35 AM   


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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/24/2015 8:25:33 AM   


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Ok I just wrote a huge response and had it deleted because it had a few numbers in it and now I cant remember what I wrote...I CANT EVEN USE THE ANGRY EMOTICON BECAUSE IT HAS AN "AT" SYMBOL IN IT!

< Message edited by p1t1o -- 4/24/2015 12:32:18 PM >

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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/24/2015 10:11:39 AM   


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I tend to find you definitely use different tactics for NATO and for Russian type submarines.

If NATO at game start I'll often go to creep, search behind and the levels, then maybe even take a look at periscope.
I'll often load up with TLAM or Harpoon and aim to use those for harassment as soon as possible.

Then of course swap back to a torpedo load-out.

The Russian subs tend to need to be classified into those that are quiet, and those that are noisy. You can frankly expect to lose a number of the noisy one's.

If using them I'll often make sure I have type 65's loaded if available, quite a few wake homers if not (they are at least fast)

For engaging enemy subs get used to using the long range SS-n-16 types and variants.

For an attack with either NATO or Russian subs vs a surface group both I'd largely go the same way. In essence you need to use depth and speed to be ahead of the group, get quieter and probably shallower as you get closer. To get into the group I'll slow speed often to below 5 knots, and recheck my weapon load-out. I make sure I have as many torpedoes loaded as possible in general.

My assumption is I'll either get an attack on the central high value units, or more likely I'll get attacked by an escort on the way in. I'll then counter fire the escort and try a bearing only attack against the centre.

You have to accept that its not always going to work, plus as soon as you fire all hell is likely to break loose.

As soon as torpedoes are again available I'll often get in a few more shots.

If you get bypassed by the group so your sub is trailing, I'll normally go to creep and shadow them, that way you get some intell, plus any heavily damaged ships the trailer will pick off.

(in reply to p1t1o)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/24/2015 11:33:58 AM   


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Here we go:

So I replayed the Duelists, this time as the UK.
I tried to put into practice all I have read above, and I did have some small measure of success (relatively speaking).

This time with only two subs, I sent them both forward aiming to roughly bracket the suspected position of the soviet SAG, the one with longer ranged sonar at the layer, 5 knts, the other at max depth, 10kts.
Air and sea surveillance is fairly good in this scenario, so once you spot the soviet SAG and its abundance of Helos, you keep your subs away from it and use them for anti-sub hunting.

I suppose 10kts is way too fast or I went under an enemy passive sonobuoy field - though I didn't observe any helos that far out, I could have missed one - because after a few hours, the sub at max depth and 10 kts started to get engaged with those rocket-boosted ASROC-analog type missiles from approx 20ish nm, without picking up the contact (nor the launch - the vampires were spotted by air surveillance).

I managed to dodge three or four of them by going to flank and "beaming" the shot, heading 90degrees to the axis of attack, then the torp would land a couple of miles away and eithe not detect me or I could outrun it if it did.
This is obviously makes me very visible and inevitably one of them landed too close and I died. Its possible I was being engaged by two subs (never caught the attacker(s) on sensors).

My other sub headed in more quietly, never going faster than 5kts, and I varied his depth every hour or so. He never picked up any contact throughout the whole scenario.

Even when I got a brief sonobuoy contact on a goblin about halfway through, that was well within the subs long range sonar (I know its not garunteed to detect, but though I was putting myself in the position to detect, it never happened).

Passive sonobuoys dropped by my Nimrods in high concentration around the area, above and below the laer, failed to resolve the contact and after a few hours it was lost.
Eventually the contact was picked up by another buoy and, again eventually, was killed by Nimrods.

So Im not bringing much pain with my subs, but some progress...I also saw some other issues:
What with the Nimrods being land based, they can only spend a few hours on station. Saturating the area with large buoy fields is all well and good, but when one aircraft goes off-station and another arrives, the new aircraft does not display datalinks to the buoys dropped previously.

Is this designed behavior? Would an aircraft not be able to pick up the feed from buoys dropped by another aircraft?

What you are left with is a vast clutter of buoys everywhere not doing anything, and any field of buoys that you lay is only "watched" for a comparatively short time - a very short time in the submariners book.
Then, when the goblin contact was finally reacquired, the Nimrod on station went to engage - and after a while of him flying over the sub without dropping (see other threads for that problem) - I attempted manual BOL drops (which fired straightaway). The BOL torps sailed, at shallow depth, straight over the soviet sub (who ws at depth) without noticing him.

Again, is it designed behavior, or could there be any utility in being able to set a depth/height for BOLs (or even other types of attack)?

So in conclusion, I am still finding subs very hard, both to hunt with and to evade, and from my perspective, it seems as though the enemy has an advantage, though I am quite sure it is more likely to be my competence/experience at fault.

I dont have access right now, but if anyone wants a save midway through the above, I can do that.

Did you think submarine combat is supposed to be easy?
No simulation is going to give exactly the same resulst as RL without actually climbing into a submarine. The best you can hope for, rather than expecting every encounter to match the real world, is statistical accuracy. That is, that say, 80 out of 100 encounters have similar results to what you might expect IRL. At the individual unit level, the inaccuracies and assumptions made by the simulation will always be more obvious, the more units that are involved (basically just means, more variables and more calculations) the more that the pessimistic and optimistic results tend to even things out, making the scenario result more realistic, even if individual unit actions may not always be.
Making simulations more realistic almost always involves an increase in the necessary computing power, and you know how smoothly CMANO runs when there is alot going on!

(in reply to Flankerk)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/24/2015 12:22:47 PM   

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Submarines can be difficult to handle, because their performance depends on a lot of variables. Something you might want to experiment with, is create a "toy" scenario of just 1v1 for 1vfew, where your goal is to successfully attack another submarine, surface combatant or small SAG of maybe just a 2 or 3 surface combatants along with maybe 1 or 2 high value units (e.g. an oiler or tankers). Try it in different conditions, deep water versus shallow. Add in a helos and then next an MPA.

Start off with a more capable boat not some dinky rust bucket like a November, Romeo or Whiskey class, because that will make things easier.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 4/24/2015 1:39:35 PM >

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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/28/2015 10:25:27 PM   


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There are a number of items about CMANO's sonar model that might be helpful for your hunting. Here's what I discovered after some trials a few months ago.

The uppermost part of the ocean (anything above 50 m) models the surface duct. Sonar performance is very good in the duct, so a quiet sub can hear other contacts that are also in the duct at good distances. Of course, they can hear you too, so if you are moving at speed (where you will cavitate easily due to the shallow depth) then you might find yourself detected too soon. If you want to listen here with your conventional sub, then make sure you manually set your depth below periscope depth, otherwise your diesels will turn on and take away some of your stealth advantage.

The lowest part of the ocean, beneath the layer, is the deep sound channel. Sound transmission there is excellent - even better than in the surface duct. Go there to listen if you like, but be very quiet, because anyone else down there will have a good chance to hear you too.

Sound transmission into the layer from above or below is poor, sound transmission across the layer is worse, and sound transmission within the layer to another target in the layer is worst of all.

So it might seem like the best way to hide from surface ships is to put yourself beneath the layer, yes? Sometimes it is, but be very careful who you try to play this trick against. Almost all modern sub hunters will have a variable depth sonar (look for 'VDS' in the sensor list) and that's being towed around below the layer. So now, instead of hiding, you're sharing the deep sound channel with a powerful hostile sensor. If you have been operating down there against a VDS equipped foe you've actually been putting yourself in the worst possible position. They can hear you just fine, but you can only hear them faintly through the layer. The best compromise against a surface group is often to manually put yourself within the layer, to stay out of the deep sound channel, but still get some protection from direct detection from above. You can make brief forays above and below the layer to listen, and then return to it to hide. Only stay down there if you're certain they don't have a VDS.

One advantage to a submarine with a towed array is that it can cruise along within the layer, and the array will act as though it is below the layer, allowing you to listen into the deep sound channel for anyone who might be down there, as well as allowing you to listen back up into the layer, which is better than listening along the layer.

If the water is deep enough to allow convergence zones (those broad pale green rings) then you will get a great increase in sonar range, but only on the pale green rings themselves. Between the outer rings you have no effective sonar, and your direct path detection will not usually allow you to detect all the way to the first ring. So if you need to do any sprinting against a known target, then do it while you are between rings, and slow down when you must cross a CZ, or you are at risk of being detected.

The sonar model also takes into account the reverberation problems from the sea floor when active sonar is in use. You can get very significant reductions in active sonar detection range by hugging the sea floor in shallow water. For example, a Udaloy blasting away with its powerful Horse jaw active sonar can detect an SS in deep water at 10 miles (15 in the surface duct, or even 25 at side aspect if the surface duct CZ kicks in), but if you're hugging the sea floor 100 m down he'll only see you at just over 1 mile. That can be a massive tactical advantage, and is why conventional subs are such a problem in the littoral.

< Message edited by AndrewJ -- 4/28/2015 11:33:20 PM >

(in reply to SeaQueen)
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RE: Submarines on the offence - 4/29/2015 4:14:27 PM   


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^^^Interesting Andrew..... Good read....

(in reply to AndrewJ)
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