Tuesday, May 14th
Monday, May 20th, Board of Directors Meeting, 5:00 pm, Steak Fry 6:00 pm San Diego Yacht Club
Tuesday, May 28th, Annual Youth Appreciation Breakfast, 7:00 am San Diego Yacht Club
Tuesday, June 4th, Breakfast Meeting, Speaker to be announced, 7:00 am San Diego Yacht Club
Run Silent. Run Deep. That 1958 movie classic about the submarine service in WW II brought to the attention of many people the trials, tribulations, and dangers of life on board a submerged boat. Today’s submarine force is the pride of the US Navy. 70 of these invisible defenders circle the globe to protect, defend and secure lives of American citizens and our allies. The Mission Areas of the submarine force include strategic deterrence, strike warfare, special operations, and intelligence gathering.
This morning, we had the honor to hear from Captain Chris Cavanaugh, the Commander of Submarine Squadron 11, based here in San Diego at Ballast Point. Captain Cavanaugh is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and has received masters degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and the Catholic University of America. During his 26 year year career, he has served on four submarines, including command of the USS Albuquerque (SSN 706). He has also spent time serving under the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Naval Personnel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Captain Cavanaugh recently deployed to Argentina as Commander, Task Group 46 to lead the search and rescue efforts for a missing Argentinian submarine, ARA San Juan. On November 15, 2017, the ARA San Juan went missing somewhere off the eastern coast of Argentina. The Argentine Navy began to search on the 16th, and the Argentine government request assistance from the US on November 17th. A multi-national group from Argentina, UK, US, Chile and Russia provided assistance in the search efforts. Captain Cavanaugh led the group (except Russia) to coordinate the search efforts. By early January 2018, the search was called off. “While the effort failed to find the lost submarine, there were many valuable lessons learned through the mission,” he told us. Eventually, the submarine was found, providing additional evidence the boat was likely lost to a battery fire and explosion on November 15, 2017.
Headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, the submarine service has approximately 10% of the US Navy manpower (21,000 people). Their home ports include six US cities, one US territory and three foreign countries. In San Diego, currently five Los Angeles Class fast attack submarines are assigned. Over the next several years, that number is scheduled to increase to eight or nine boats. Historically, San Diego has been home port for as many as 22 submarines, but with the physical growth of the size of submarines, and the specially required servicing of the boats, that number is no longer practical.
Submarine Squadron 11 includes the unique floating dry-dock ARCO Floating Dry-Dock and the Undersea Rescue Command (see the discussion above about the ARA San Juan). Submarine Squadron 11 Command is also a key component of the Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative. This is a cooperative effort between the US Navy and the navies of Peru and Chile. Each year, Squadron 11 interfaces with a diesel submarine and crew from Peru or Chili, to improve the overall operations of both services. This year, Chile will be sending a diesel submarine to San Diego to partake in this Initiative.
Captain Cavanaugh was asked about quality of submarine services of other nations. He believes the Unites States Navy still has the best overall submarine service. He also believes that the Russian navy is close in quality, but lacking in capacity. While the Chinese navy is building capacity quickly, they fall behind in quality. “No matter how you look at it, we need to be vigilant in our pursuit of quality in the submarine service and continue to maintain our overall capacity,” he told us. From what we see today, we should all be proud of Captain Cavanaugh, the US Navy’s submarine fleet and the 21,000 other people serving on board and onshore in the submarine force!