STS 2020 Theme: “A Vision to Dominate Future Competition with Precision Effects from the Undersea Domain”

The threat to maintaining undersea superiority is more critical than ever as we have entered an era of Great Power Competition. Our adversaries are disparate, geographically dispersed and aggressively advancing technology to neutralize our advantages. At home, we face pressure to build a superior fleet in a fiscally responsible manner to combat an uncertain future – or risk that it may not be built at all. Our dominance of the undersea domain today is due to the bold and innovative technological advances within our submarine fleet that were rapidly enabled by disciplined system engineering to deter the enemies of freedom worldwide. Courageous integration of nuclear power and strategic weaponry on impossibly short time frames made the submarine fleet the Navy’s “game changer” and U.S. undersea superiority became the exemplar for maintaining peace through strength in the Cold and Post-Cold War Eras. Dominating future competition requires us to again embrace innovation in technology, operational employment, and process – but this time by aligning behind a vision of domain centric vice platform centric warfare. The fight of the future will require integrated effects from manned and unmanned platforms as well as autonomous undersea capabilities. This symposium challenges the Submarine Community to use its legacy of innovation to execute this vision while upholding the finest traditions of “The Silent Service”. With that in mind we invite you to the 2020 Submarine Technology Symposium and our theme “A Vision to Dominate Future Competition with Precision Effects from the Undersea Domain” in the following session areas:


Session Theme: Enabling Flexibility and Adaptability to Maintain a Viable Deterrent for an Uncertain Future

Session Chair: Todd Massidda, JHU/APL
Assistant Session Chair: Chris Cupples, Lockheed Martin

The COLUMBIA class SSBNs will eventually replace the OHIO-class as the sea-based strategic deterrent. The COLUMBIA class will be charged with providing a secure and survivable leg of the nuclear triad until at least 2080. Over its lifespan it will face evolving threat vectors that will challenge SSBNs in unprecedented ways: Through cyber attacks, seabed systems, advanced weapons defensive capabilities, or submarines deployed by near-peer adversaries, for example.  The entirety of the undersea community will be required to provide the flexibility and rapid implementation of innovative capabilities necessary to ensure the security, survivability and credibility of our sea-based deterrent.  This session focuses on innovations for all elements of the strategic sea-based system – submarines, seabed warfare systems, the weapons systems, communication channels, operations, and training – that will be required to face the myriad of challenges that sea-based strategic deterrence will encounter over the next half century. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: SSBN security, cybersecurity, deterrence technology for the mixed nature of modern warfare, crew training and communications.

Session Theme: Designing for Next Generation Submarine Warfare

Session Chair: Alex Erving, HII-Newport News
Assistant Session Chair: Dave Knapp, HII-Newport News

The Navy faces a critical challenge in upgrading an aging attack submarine fleet with future blocks of the VIRGINIA Class as well as building the SSN(X) fleet. As warfighters continue to seek improved capabilities to dominate in a new era of Great Power Competition, future SSN designs will still need to compete for the finite resources available. The pressure to maximize the relevance of our future SSNs will be greater than ever. While advances in technology have significantly improved the capabilities of today’s submarines, these improvements have come with a corresponding cost, to the point where the projected cost in real dollars for a Block V SSN is quadruple that of a 1960s STURGEON class SSN. The entire shipbuilding community must understand the impact of cost, requirements and capabilities driving future design. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: Unmanned technological alternatives, cyber resiliency, dual use technology, design innovation, flexibility and modularity, cost saving opportunities, cost benefit analysis of requirements, and payload module advancements.

Session Theme: Assessing the Technology of the Adversary

Session Chair: John Babb, NUWC-Newport
Assistant Session Chair: Craig Shelden, Office of Naval Intelligence

The return to Great Power Competition pits the submarine force against the most capable adversaries in the world. Their large scale investments in technology create emerging threats to our Navy’s ability to control the undersea. Understanding those threats will guide those using and developing today’s technology as well as the next generation fleet to make important choices based on this assessment. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: Foreign submarine weapons, unique undersea technology, advances in submarine sensors and processing, unmanned platforms, artificial intelligence capabilities, cyber capabilities, non-acoustic capabilities, countering adversary technology, and technology to determine the technology of the adversary.

Session Theme: A Vision for the Future of Undersea Weaponry

Session Chair: Agnus Hendrick, ARL-Penn State
Assistant Session Chair: Kurt Hacker, ARL-Penn State

The most recent Commander’s Intent has asked for the submarine force to be able to “deliver attacks with surprise at the time and place of our choosing.” This critical component of undersea warfare needs the appropriate arsenal on board to deter and defeat a variety of potential adversaries in both Great Power Competition and against asymmetric threats. Weapons such as advanced torpedoes and emerging capabilities such as hypersonics may play a critical role, but it is important we establish a vision for desired effects and successful employment now in order to expend resources wisely. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: Hypersonic weapons, non-kinetic weaponry, modular torpedoes and variants, directed energy weapons, lethality in contested environments, lethality and capability of current and future weapons, extended range employment, next generation heavyweight torpedo technology, and novel targeting concepts.

Session Theme: Innovating to Maximize Ao

Session Chair: Hal Barge, Oceaneering
Assistant Session Chair: John Newton, Cypress International

Operational Availability (Ao) is a critical factor in the effectiveness of the US undersea force. Most of the world’s population does not live in North America and most economic and military activity occurs in the Eastern Hemisphere. As a result, US national security requires a Navy that can defend peace and prosperity far from its shores. Submarines provide long range, persistent, lethal capability but are expensive to build, operate, and maintain, and so exist in limited numbers. Furthermore, with recent increases in submarine production, there will be additional competition for resources when at port. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: Improvements to maintenance and upgrade timelines, building capacity in our ports, achieving technical innovations in operations, maximizing crew effectiveness, reducing maintenance requirements and costs, utilizing unmanned technology to improve Ao, extending the life of the current fleet, building and maintaining the people to operate our fleet, scheduling, and identifying impacts to Ao from proposed new systems.


If you have questions or would like to know more about Submarine Technology Symposium 2019, please visit navalsubleague.org/events/submarine-technology-symposium/ or email events@navalsubleague.org.