STS 2021 Theme: “Balancing Capability and Force Structure for High-End Combat​”

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 2021 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: Theater UnderSea Warfare (tusW)​

Session Chair: Vernon Parks, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
Assistant Session Chair: William J. Toti, Sparton Corporation

Theater Undersea Warfare Commanders (TUSWC) face a number of challenges in preparing the battlespace in their respective Areas of Responsibility (AOR) across the spectrum of conflict. These challenges range from determining which sensors to deploy, and at what time, to coordinating the elimination of a threat. Each AOR faces a unique set of threats and opportunities with differing capabilities and capacity, yet the responsibility for the execution of each Commander’s guidance rests on the same warfighters. New technologies are needed to (1) enable Submarine Force operations in this dynamic and heavily coordinated environment, (2) enable seamless integration between different undersea platforms, and (3) standardize how Theater Undersea Warfare (including anti-submarine, anti-surface, mine, and seabed warfare; precision strike, ISR, and other domain and cross-domain operations) is conducted across AORs. As our adversaries continue to improve their technologies, our ability to capitalize on opportunities, counter adversary undersea capabilities, and disrupt the undersea kill chain will enable our TUSWCs to achieve their Combatant Commander’s goals.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  •  Theater Undersea Warfare Command and Control (C2) architecture and CONOPs
  •  Theater Undersea Warfare against multiple near-peer threats
  •  Technologies to enable seamless theater and inter-theater undersea operations
  •  Management of water space in the undersea domain
  •  Innovations to counter/disrupt threat undersea capabilities and enable modified rules of engagement

SESSION THEME: Preparing for High-End Combat Against Near-Peer Competition​

Session Chair: Steve Plunkett, Naval Undersea Warfare Center
Assistant Session Chair: John Dickmann, Sonalysts

Submarines provide a host of unique capabilities across the entire spectrum of conflict owing to their stealth, asymmetric capabilities, and unique access. The individual and collective capabilities and capacity of our adversaries requires the Submarine Force to improve its lethality and effectiveness to ensure undersea superiority. To prepare the Fleet for a high-end fight against near-peer threats, novel technologies, weapons, and kill chain concepts must become pervasive throughout the Submarine Force.​

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Offensive mine warfare

• Lethality and capability of current and future weapons

• Reductions in payload volume without decreasing effectiveness

• Hypersonic weapons

• Non-kinetic weaponry

• Modular torpedoes and variants

• Next-generation heavyweight torpedo technology

• Novel targeting concepts

• Torpedo defense


SESSION THEME: Extending the Submarine’s Reach with Future Technologies​

Session Chair: R. Murray Gero, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Assistant Session Chair: John Newton, Cypress International

The Submarine Community has developed a host of impactful technologies that have been incorporated into the VIRGINIA Class and will be utilized by COLUMBIA-Class submarines. With the return to great power competition, the Submarine Force needs a paradigm-shifting approach for developing and deploying novel technologies. It is imperative to establish a vision for future technologies that will prepare the fleet for high-end combat. In order to dominate the increasing capability and capacity of our adversaries, technologies will be needed from strategic and tactical exploitation of the seabed, to ASW cueing, to over-the-horizon targeting and weapons control.​

Topics of interest to this session include, but are not limited to:

• Technologies for subsea and seabed warfare

• ASW cueing

• Over-the-horizon targeting

• Long-range firing

• Unmanned systems Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I)

• Technologies for secure, high-bandwidth communications


SESSION THEME: Concept to Deployment – Fast-Tracking Technology Insertion

Chair: Nicholas B. Pulsone, MIT Lincoln Labs
Assistant Chair: Jenny Roberts, Northrop Grumman Corporation

The Submarine Force is no stranger to applying Technology Insertions to get new capability to the Fleet; however, the lessons learned from two decades of experience show that new technologies take time to mature and achieve full implementation. The Submarine Force benefits from the opportunity to test new technologies; the Force can leverage industry models for understanding and mitigating risk to fast-track the development and deployment of these technologies in a budget-constrained environment. Critical to risk mitigation is protection of systems from loss of availability by integrating cyber security into new development. As new systems are developed, the warfighters are faced with ever-increasing amounts of data and information, which must be turned into actionable knowledge. Even the best minds can be overwhelmed by the vast array of information flowing at a torrid pace. Successful implementations of data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence into systems allow the warfighter to consider what to do rather than struggle to comprehend the available data.​

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Fast-tracking technology insertion

• Cyber security as a critical component of modernization

• Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical Systems (SWFTS) re-architecture

• Big data/artificial intelligence/data analytics

• Cyber security across networks as key part of the high-end fight.


SESSION THEME: Innovations to Build, Support, and Sustain the Future Submarine Fleet​

Chair: Aviva Blum Kennedy, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Assistant Chair: Eric Irwin, General Dynamics Electric Boat

The Submarine Force is building and designing the future fleet on multiple, simultaneous fronts –VIRGINIA-Class submarines are being constructed to replace LOS ANGELES-Class attack submarines, the COLUMBIA Class is under construction to replace the OHIO-Class SSBN Fleet, and the design of SSN(X) is underway. Additionally, the costs and issues with sustaining the existing Fleet are of paramount importance to ensure operational availability and readiness. The fiscal pressures on the Submarine Force are expected to become more stressing in the 2030s with competing national needs internal and external to the Navy. Innovations are required to sustain the existing Submarine Fleet within budget and to build future submarines with the required capability and capacity to win a prolonged, high-end fight.​

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Building unmanned systems to complement the Submarine Fleet and future undersea forces

• Enabling public and private shipyards to meet the demands on time and on budget

• VIRGINIA Block VI

• Innovations and cost-saving measures for repair and maintenance

• SSN(X) concepts

• Reinvigorating the submarine tender fleet.