CENTURION ATTACK SUBMARINE AUGUST 6, 1992 (Senate - August 06, 1992)

[Page: S11815]

Mr. D'AMATO. Mr. President, the July 1992 issue of `Proceedings' includes two letters on Centurion in the `Comment and Discussion' section from Lt. Bart Vinskey and Harold Hemond. I believe Lieutenant Vinskey and Mr. Hemond have correctly divined the essential elements of the Centurion.

I ask that the text of both letters be printed in the Record immediately after my remarks.

The letters follow:

`Centurion: The Changing Future of the Force'

Lieutenant Bart A. Vinskey, Supply Corps., U.S. Navy: Commander Peppe brings up many valid points, but his belief in the submarine as a `do-all' platform is invalid. That is what killed the Seawolf. The Navy made it a large, do-everything submarine and eventually priced it out of existence. Face it, if the Seawolf and its BSY-2 combat system were not so complicated, they would not be so expensive--and would be under construction and in production.

The Navy needs to return to basics and build capable--and affordable--weapon systems. What the submarine force needs is a boat to go in harm's way: a small submarine with four torpedo tubes, space for 24 weapons (cruise missiles and torpedoes), a 30-knot top speed, and relatively simple communications, electronic-support-measures, and sonar equipment.

The submarine service doesn't need to invent new roles or cross over to other communities' roles. Ten years ago, after the Argentine Navy cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine, the rest of the Argentine Navy stayed in port--while British amphibious forces re-took the Falkland Islands. That's the role for us--sinking enemy submarines and surface ships--and that's what we should be building submarines to do.

Harold C. Hemond: Commander Peppe wrote very convincingly of the characteristics that must be incorporated into the next generation of nuclear-powered attack submarine, the Centurion.

However, except by implication, he overlooked probably the most important characteristic. If the Centurion is to avoid the fate of the Seawolf, it must be drastically less expensive. If the Centurion is half the price of the Seawolf, it may get favorable attention in the Congress. To ensure congressional support, the goal should be more like one-third the cost of the Seawolf.

The Navy and its suppliers are not accustomed to cost as a dominant characteristic in weapons procurement, but this is part of the changing future of the force. The Centurion must be everything Commander Peppe catalogues, but it must be affordable--or it will never exist.