Aboard His Submarine, Jimmy Launders Sank Ralf-Reimar Wolfram’s U-boat
The Hunt for Red October dramatized for the public one of the tensest forms of warfare imaginable: combat between submarines submerged deep under the ocean’s surface, the nerve-wracked crews scouring the fathomless depths for their adversary’s acoustic signature using hydrophones. However, while hunting undersea enemies is one of the primary... Read more
What Happened to Argentina’s Missing Submarine?
Update: 11/23/17: The Argentine navy is presuming the 44 sailors aboard San Juan are dead following a “violent and non-nuclear event consistent with an explosion.” Update 11/20/17: San Juan’s commander reported problems with the submarine’s batteries and an “electrical fault” on the day the vessel went missing, according to... Read more
No, Iranian Submarines Don’t Pose a Major Threat in the Mediterranean
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again slammed Iran’s presence in Syria, this time claiming that Tehran has a plan to base aircraft in the country, dock its submarines on Syria’s Mediterranean coast and directly threaten Israeli waters. “They want to bring their air force there, right next... Read more
In One Sense, Russia’s ‘Lada’ Submarines Are a Step Backward
Russian media has been trumpeting plans to launch two additional Lada-class diesel-electric submarines, two decades after the hull of the lead boat, the St. Petersburg, was laid down. Left delicately unstated in some of the press releases is that these new boats will lack the air-independent propulsion — or AIP... Read more
Building the Ayatollah’s Submarines
The Iranian military has long planned for a defensive naval war in the Persian Gulf, in which it would leverage its large fleet of fast attack boats toting anti-ship missiles to launch swarming hit-and-run attacks on adversaries in along Persian Gulf, with the ultimate goal of shutting down passage through the... Read more
The U.S. Navy Readies Its New Missile Submarine
In September 2017, the U.S. Navy awarded shipbuilder Electric Boat $5 billion to proceed with the design phase of the next generation of U.S. nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, also known as SSBNs or “boomers.” A dozen Columbia-class submarines will start replacing the 14 enormous but stealthy Ohio-class boats that constitute the scariest... Read more
During World War II, the Submarine USS ‘Barb’ Rocketed Japan
In the closing months of World War II, heavy losses and depleted fuel stocks kept many of Japan’s remaining combat aircraft grounded and warships in port, awaiting an anticipated amphibious invasion. Starting in July 1945, Allied battleships embarked on a series of naval bombardments of coastal cities in Japan... Read more
The ‘Alfa’ Attack Submarine Was Ahead of Its Time
The Soviet Union began the Cold War well behind the United States in submarine technology. Although the Soviets acquired several of the most advanced German submarine types towards the end of the war, the United States had amassed a wealth of experience in submarine and antisubmarine practice from the... Read more
A Grim Future For Russia’s Nuclear Sub Fleet
In March 2017, Russia’s new Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine Kazan launched at the northern port city of Severodvinsk. Perhaps the quietest Russian submarine ever, the event was further evidence the Kremlin can still build capable and lethal subs capable of a variety of missions, including cruise-missile attack. But it... Read more
How China Could Trick the U.S. Navy With Ultraquiet Submarines
Word has it that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy has staged a breakthrough in submarine propulsion. At any rate, that’s the word from marine engineer Rear Adm. Ma Weiming, a specialist in electromagnetic systems. Adm. Ma recently reported on state-run CCTV that shipwrights are installing shaftless rim-driven pumpjets in China’s “next-generation... Read more

James Holmes

Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College.