Stealth, Covertness, Endurance and Agility
The most basic and important characteristic of a modern nuclear-powered submarine derives from its ability to submerge and become virtually invisible. Submairnes can detect other forces first and maneuver, thereby avoiding counter-detection. Stealth gives a number of advantages to the submarine, including:
Submarines can conduct operations without any indication that American forces are present or involved. Submarines can remain totally covert or can disclose their involvement.
Submarines can be moved into position, remain on station, or be withdrawn without causing a crisis to escalate or result in an advserve response.
Submarines have the inititative. They can engage an enemy on the submarines' own terms, when an adversary may not be prepared.
Submarines can not be readily attacked. Submarines can select the conditions of battle so that they can fight when outnumbered, prevail, and live to fight again. Because submarines can survive, they are not likely to become a debilitating loss that could determine the American will.
An adversary can not determine where, when, or how many submarines are in opposition.
The second basic characteristic of submarines is enduance. Nuclear-powered submarines can remain on station for months, limited only be a need to replenish on-board food supplies or weapons. Submarines do not need to rely on forward bases, logistics trains, or prepositioned supplies, and therefore do not place taxing resupply requirements on a theater commander. Endurance provides the following advantages to a submarine:
Submarines can remain where needed for long periods of time. They can be on station in a potentially unstable area before a crisis develops, during a crisis, and afterwards until stability is restored. Continuity can be critical to operational effectiveness.
Endurance allows submarines to operate largely unencumbered by any requirement to resupply, relocate, or rendezvous to remain ready.
The third basic characteristic of submarines is agility. Submarines can arrive quickly where needed and act promptly in response to a broad range of situations. Agility is much more than mobility. Nuclear power gives submarines HIGH SPEED for an unlimited time. Submarines can conduct MULTIPLE MISSIONS because of their range of weapons, sensors and crew training. Submarines are maintained at a very high state of MATERIAL READINESS, allowing them to respond quickly to tasking, whether in port or at sea. Additionally, submarines have a RELIABLE COMMAND CONTROL and COMMUNICATONS capability, which allows them to respond flexibly to multi-mission tasking.
A view of the navigating party during manuevering watch from the USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) as ship head into port.
Because of stealth, submarines can focus on offensive missions. No defensive weapons are required, allowing submarines to load their magazine with 100 percent offensive weapons.
Because of stealth, the submarine can engage the enemy on the submarine's own terms.