STS 2019 Theme: Expanding the Competitive Space from Undersea

The 2018 COMSUBFOR Commander’s Intent emphasizes the expansion of U.S. undersea superiority as the country enters the new era of multi-polar great power competition described in the National Defense Strategy. Threats are evolving and expanding in at least three world regions, posing substantially different operational demands on the Fleet in peacetime and wartime. New capabilities for denying entry and far-forward operation will place an emphasis on high-end combat in contested blue water with near-peer adversaries. Broadening the submarine force’s warfighting capability can offer a multitude of strategies in this environment that capitalize on the unique access, persistence, and survivability that come with stealth and nuclear power. With the theme of Expanding the Competitive Space Undersea, the 2019 Submarine Technology Symposium will focus on recent technology innovations.

Session Theme: Ensuring Survivable and Credible Strategic Deterrence

Session Chair: RDML Dave Duryea, USN, Ret., Systems Planning and Analysis, Inc.
Assistant Session Chair: CAPT Patrick Hopfinger, USN, Ret., JHU/APL

Under the current schedule for retiring the OHIO-class SSBN fleet and acquiring the COLUMBIA class, the Navy projects that the SSBN force will decline to 11 boats for FY30-FY36 and then 10 boats in FY37-FY40. Ultimately, the COLUMBIA program will result in a total of 12 SSBNs – two fewer than the 14 hulls of the OHIO class. This session will focus on innovation in the design and capabilities of the COLUMBIA class and how it will ensure that the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad remains secured against all possible threats- manned and unmanned, kinetic and non-kinetic. This session also provides the opportunity to explore a more expansive view of deterrence concepts (e.g. cyber, tactical nuclear, conventional weapons) that could provide the nation’s leadership with a wider range of options for missions carried out by SSBNs as well as SSNs. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: SSBN security, deterrence concepts, Trident II D5 and its successor, precision navigation and timing (PNT), crew training, cybersecurity, nuclear modernization, weapons/facility security, weapons systems, nuclear C2.

Session Theme: Enabling New Missions from Under the Sea

Session Chair: Peter Yinger, L3 MariPro
Assistant Session Chair: Jeremy O’Neal, L3 SSG

The new national security environment presents many new challenges to the Navy, but similarly presents new opportunities for undersea assets to contribute to the fight and potentially have impact on non-USW missions employing emergent technologies and processes. The stealth, persistence, survivability, and access that comes with undersea operations can be a valuable advantage in seabed warfare, electronic warfare, and cyber operations. Furthermore, cutting-edge developments in weapon technology, including hypersonics and directed energy, may define new methods for projecting power from under the sea. This session will focus on technologies that could broaden the role of the SSN, particularly through creative use of the VIRGINIA-class payload module and unique operating capabilities of SSNs. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: SSN land strike, missile defense, cyber operations, cross-domain and through water communications, distributed networked sensors, collaborative warfighting, (counter-) seabed warfare, electronic warfare, unmanned systems, special operations, and hypersonics.

Session Theme: Embracing Artificial Intelligence in Undersea Warfare

Session Chair: Dr. Adam Watkins, JHU/APL
Assistant Session Chair: Dr. Nathan Parrish, JHU/APL

The history of the submarine is a story of the interaction of human and machine. Just as the mechanical revolution enabled the submarine to dive beneath the ocean surface and the nuclear revolution enabled it to remain submerged, the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution will enable new missions previously thought impossible. As the current submarine force trusts the mechanical and electrical technology to execute the mission, the future force will need to trust AI to extract and exploit actionable patterns among an ocean of data. The advent of big data and deep learning technology has rendered signal detection and classification an increasingly automated process. Furthermore, advances in autonomous navigation have enabled unmanned platforms to operate alone or in swarms. It will be critical for the 21st century that the undersea fleet advance in its AI capabilities, develop algorithms that are intuitive and explainable, cultivate users’ trust in AI, and design future systems around the use of AI. Meanwhile, we must also recognize our adversaries’ disruptive AI capabilities and develop appropriate countermeasures against them. Topics of interest to this session include, but are not limited to, the following: signal detection and classification, C4ISR, data fusion, autonomous systems, deep learning, big data management, human-machine interfaces, AI countermeasures, data governance, virtual / augmented reality, and predictive analytics for ship design and maintenance.

Session Theme: Ensuring Continued Undersea Superiority

Session Chair: Matt Olander, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Assistant Session Chair: CAPT Eric Irwin, USN, Ret., General Dynamics Electric Boat

A key element of the Undersea Warfare Vision 2025 is for the undersea force to “grow longer arms” and maximize its effective reach from the undersea. However, in the near-term, the number of operational attack submarines is expected to decline to a historical low of 41 by FY29 as the VIRGINIA-class is acquired. If we are to expand the Navy’s undersea reach, the operational availability (AO) of in-service submarines must be expanded as well. The process of designing new submarines, payloads, and combat systems must also be flexible enough to adapt to a continuously-evolving, multi-polar threat while simultaneously respecting the constraints of cost and schedule. This session will highlight innovative approaches to fully capitalize on the submarine platform by bringing newly-constructed submarines into the fleet faster while reducing maintenance delays and cost overruns, while also exploring what combination of speed, stealth, and payload will be required for SSN(X) to complete its future missions. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: submarine construction and maintenance, set-based design, sea trials and readiness activities, modular systems, model-based systems engineering, operator training, schedule optimization, future submarine designs, electric propulsion, and future SSN(X) mission concepts.

Session Theme: Emerging Undersea Warfare Technologies

Session Chair: RDML Tom Wears, USN, Ret., Northrop Grumman
Assistant Session Chair: Dr. Brian McKeon, Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Technical Solutions

The current pace of technology development suggests that revolutionary new capabilities will need to become reality for the submarine force within the next decade. For example, the integration of off-board sensors and systems into SSNs can truly extend their reach far-forward. Meanwhile, the evolution of the unmanned threat is requiring the fleet to refine its decoy/deception as well as counter-UUV capabilities. The proliferation of much quieter submarines will require new and improved sensing and processing capabilities such as the integration of new computing technologies and an expanded role of non-acoustics in anti-submarine warfare (ASW). A deluge of new long-range weapons and sensing technologies are emerging with potential ASW utility, but pose a challenge for coordinating Theater ASW operations. Furthermore, the rapid adoption of technologies such as these will require modifying a conservative acquisition process that currently emphasizes incremental progress. This session will focus on revolutionary, vice evolutionary, technologies being developed to combat emerging threats, and how they might be integrated into an end-to-end undersea warfighting capability for VIRGINIA Block VI+ and/or SSN(X) and other associated undersea warfare platforms and shore processing stations. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: ASW weapons (including hypersonics and directed energy weapons), non-kinetic effects, sensors, advanced processing, signature modeling and analysis, signal detection and exploitation, acoustics, non-acoustics, theater ASW, tactical decision aids, (counter-) UUV technologies, and decoy/deception.

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