George Bush this week declared war on sea mammals, officially adding whales to the dreaded Axis of Evil. The Bush administration stated whales are a threat to the American way of life, democracy, and of course freedom. Joking aside, Bush this week gave the official go ahead for the Navy to conduct sonar training off San Diego this week. The navy admits themselves that whales will be harmed by the exercise. This is occurring despite a recent win in the federal courts by environmental groups to restrict sonar use off the coast under the Coastal Zone Management Act. Bush simply issued an exemption for the Navy from the CZMA.
There is no doubt that mid-level sonar use will lead to whale beachings. The International Whaling Commission states the “the evidence linking sonar to a series of whale strandings in recent years is “very convincing and appears overwhelming.” The National Resource Defense Council notes
Each loudspeaker in the LFA system’s wide array, for example, can generate 215 decibels’ worth — sound as intense as that produced by a twin-engine fighter jet at takeoff. Some mid-frequency sonar systems can put out over 235 decibels, as loud as a Saturn V rocket at launch. Even 100 miles from the LFA system, sound levels can approach 160 decibels, well beyond the Navy’s own safety limits for humans. Evidence of the harm such a barrage of sound can do began to surface in March 2000, when whales of four different species stranded themselves on beaches in the Bahamas after a U.S. Navy battle group used active sonar in the area. Investigators found that the whales were bleeding internally around their brains and ears
“It’s important that the Navy be able to send trained sailors to sea to protect us and our interests around the glob. They cannot do that if there are excessive, unnecessary restrictions on their ability to do realistic training at sea.”
So what actual threat is there to the U.S. from hostile submarines?
These countries currently possess submarines in active service:
Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, China, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, U.K., and Venezuela.
The top 10 countries by numbers are: USA (73), China (63), Russia (56), North Korea (26), South Korea (26), India (16), Japan (16) United Kingdom (16), Germany (14), and Turkey (13).
With at least 3/4 of the countries the U.S. has decent and solid diplomatic relations. Of the top 10, 3 or 4 might pose a threat. The Russian submarine fleet poses no significant challenge to the U.S. Navy. Most of their submarines are of much weaker capabilities than ours currently in service. At least 50% of the fleet was built in the 1980′s and nearing the end of their operational lives. Historically, China as not been a threat with most of the fleet outdated by US standards. However, currently China is outbuilding the US 3 to 1 per year. This all according to the Center for Defense Information. In a Fox interview with former Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton, states the North Korean submarine fleet is no threat.
They are small subs, holding 10 to 20 people, are noisy, cannot sustain long distances, have to surface continually to recharge and don’t have any nuclear capability.
The other countries below the top 10 suffer from similar issues possessing a mere handful of subs outdated, noisy, and with poorly trained crews. More than likely they would be heard without the use of sonar.