Of all the platforms in Command, it's submarines that have taken the longest for me to feel at least a passing confidence with. Mostly I think it's the lack of concrete sensor awareness. With surface and air units you have pretty solid confidence when other surface and air contacts can see you, as well as what you should be able see.
The complex acoustic arena of the ocean is a bit different in determining what your sensor capabilities are and how your detectable you sub is. There are lots of variables at work and seeing their effect is very much an art with the in-game tools provided at this point. Among these variables are...
Thermocline (width and strength)
Self & Target Active/Passive Sonar Signatures
Self & Target Active/Passive Sonar Sensors and Coverage
Crew Training (? - I assume better crews are better at isolating and identifying detected contacts)
Noise Due to Speed (both in respect to platform signature and sensor effectiveness)
All of these combine to create a pretty dense operational environment for a player to comprehend. This lack of understanding will often get your subs killed, too. Why? Because you've maneuvered your sub in a way that has gotten it detected, and you weren't even aware. Next thing you know, there's a torp in the water overhead and you've got to run.
So how do you deal with this? For me, after a lot of practice and with significant parts of the big picture still blurry, I came up with some SOPs that seem to work.
SOP 1: Initial Situational Awareness.
When I'm driving a sub the first thing I do is a 1-minute periscope sweep at Creep speed to clear the surface. This also allows my sonar to pick up any nearby contacts, too. I also review any intel on suspected enemy forces in the area - this lets me know how my sub matches up to the threat environment. If it's a mismatch in my direction, I can operate with more aggression. If it's parity or worse, then the need for caution becomes stronger.
SOP 2: Know the Sub's Speed Capabilities.
While you can quickly determine your sub's speed at the various throttle settings, it is less obvious what your cavitation speeds are. After clearing the nearby area, I'll usually go to Shallow depth and increment my speed until I see the sub is cavitating. I then repeat this process at the Just Above the Layer depth.
SOP 3: Only Go As Fast As You Need To.
Slow speed saves lives when you're driving a sub. You make less noise and your sensors work better. Go as slow as your mission or patrol area allows. If you need to go fast, go to a depth where you won't cavitate and put yourself on the side of the thermocline opposite your opponent's best sonar.
SOP 4: Stealth is Life.
When dealing with a threat, do everything you can to make the chances of your sub's detection as low as possible while maintaining as good a picture as you can, yourself. This is an area where you need to balance the acoustic variables listed above in your favor as much as possible. Approach from a direction, depth and maintain distance in a way that minimizes your chances of detection. Remember that VDS and towed arrays deploy BELOW the thermocline. Be aware you'll be tempted to push this envelope often to create advantage or move into weapon parameters. Also understand that when you do this, that's the point of greatest threat of detection.
SOP 5: Respect Active Sonar!
Powerful active sonars are a serious threat to a sub. They can have a substantial detection range and provide little positional ambiguity for an ASROC or SS-N-14 shot. The good news is that with a serviceable acoustic intercept sensor, you'll usually pick up an active sonar before it sees you. When you do so, take action to stay out of it's arc and range. Active Sonar WILL pick you up, if you get sloppy. The main defense against active sonar is placing the thermocline between you and the emitter and hugging the sea floor if you can. Some subs are more stealthy to active sonar but it's hard to tell how much you can count on that.
SOP 6: Respect ASW Aircraft.
Probably the most dangerous opponent, aircraft can often detect your sub without you even knowing it and have the ability to quickly localize and pursue you. Sonobuoys last for hours and helos with active dipping sonar can put your sub in a spotlight and keep it there. I am very loathe to enter an area where I know ASW aircraft are hunting for these reasons. Anything you can do with your other units to reduce this risk is very much appreciated.
< Message edited by mikmyk -- 6/10/2015 12:40:04 AM >