War Game QB #3: Improved Los Angeles SSN vs. Shang SSN

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Quick Battle #3 – Parameters

  • Starting Separation: 20 nm.
  • Adversary EMCON State: Sonars passive
  • Local Time: Night (0000)
  • Engagement takes place in: Deep, cold water in the Central Atlantic
  • Weather: Clear, no clouds, no wind state, avg. temp. 15C.
USS Columbia (SSN-771) – Improved Los Angeles Class SSN (USN) [Player]Type 093B Shang-class SSN (PLAN) [A.I.]
1 submarine1 submarine
Type: SSN – Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine
Max Depth: -300 m
Commissioned: 2016
Length: 109.7 m
Beam: 10.1 m
Draft: 9.75 m
Crew: 129
Displacement: 6330 t
Propulsion: 1x S6G Nuclear Reactor
Max Speed: 32 kt
Type: SSN – Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine
Max Depth: -300 m
Commissioned: 2016
Length: 110.0 m
Beam: 11.0 m
Draft: 10.0 m
Crew: 100
Displacement: 6000 t
Propulsion: 1x Nuclear Reactor
Max Speed: 30 kt
Sensors:
AN/TB-29A – (2004, Thin Line) TASS, Passive-Only Towed Array Sonar System
TASS, Passive-Only Thin Line Towed Array Sonar System
Max Range: 185.2 km
AN/BLQ-10(V)2
– (Los Angeles) ESM
SIGINT (ELINT & COMINT) w/ OTH Targeting
Max Range: 926 km
AN/WLR-9A
– (AN/BLR-14, Sonar Warning Receiver) Acoustic Intercept (Active Sonar Warning)
Acoustic Intercept & Torpedo Warning
Max Range: 27.8 km
AN/BPS-15A
– (AN/BLR-14, Sonar Warning Receiver) Radar
Radar, Surface Search, Medium-Range
Max Range: 166.7 km
AN/TB-34
– (2007, 2600ft Fat-Line) TASS, Passive-Only Towed Array Sonar System
TASS, Passive-Only Fat Line Towed Array Sonar System
Max Range: 148.2 km
AN/BQS-15
– (2007, 2600ft Fat-Line) Hull Sonar, Active-Only
Hull Sonar, Active-Only Under-Ice Navigation and Mine & Obstacle Avoidance
Max Range: 0.7 km
AN/BQQ-10
– (Los Angeles) Hull Sonar, Active/Passive
Hull Sonar, Active/Passive Search & Track
Max Range: 129.6 km
Generic Submarine Periscope, Optical
– (2010s, 1.5x/12x Zoom) Visual
Visual, Surveillance Periscope
Max Range: 41.7 km
Generic Submarine Periscope, LLTV
– (2000s/2010s, Gen 3, 1.5x/8x Zoom) Visual
LLTV, Surveillance & Navigation Camera
Max Range: 41.7 km
Sensors:
China Type 921-A Golf Ball – (Submarine, Stop Light) ESM
RWR, Radar Warning Receiver
Max Range: 222.2 km
China SQC-207 – (Shang, Jin, Flank Sonar) Hull Sonar, Passive-Only
Hull Sonar, Passive-Only Ranging Flank Array Search & Track
Max Range: 74.1 km
China SQG-2B [DUUX 5] – (Han) Hull Sonar, Passive-Only
Hull Sonar, Passive-Only Ranging Flank Array Search & Track
Max Range: 74.1 km
China SQC-1 [DSUV 2H + DUUA 2D] – (DSUV 22 System, Han) Hull Sonar, Active/Passive
Hull Sonar, Active/Passive Search & Track
Max Range: 74.1 km
Snoop Tray 2 [MRK-50E Kaskad] – (Export) Radar
Radar, Surface Search, Short-Range
Max Range: 37 km
Generic Acoustic Intercept – (Export) Acoustic Intercept (Active Sonar Warning)
Acoustic Intercept
Max Range: 66.7 km
China SJG-206A TASS – (Submarine) TASS, Passive-Only Towed Array Sonar System
TASS, Passive-Only Towed Array Sonar System
Max Range: 129.6 km
Generic Submarine Periscope, LLTV – (2000s/2010s, Gen 3, 1.5x/8x Zoom) Visual
LLTV, Surveillance & Navigation Camera
Max Range: 41.7 km
Generic Submarine Periscope, Optical – (2010s, 1.5x/12x Zoom) Visual
Visual, Surveillance Periscope
Max Range: 41.7 km
*Characteristics from the game database

Video

Comparison of Main Weapons

Mk48 Mod 7 ADCAP CBASS (2008)Yu-6 – (2006)
Subsurface Max: 11.1 km.Subsurface Max: 11.1 km.
Properties: Search Pattern, Bearing-Only Launch (BOL), Re-Attack Capability
Torpedo Seeker – (Mk48 Mod 6/7) Hull Sonar, Active/Passive Torpedo Seeker, Active/Passive Shallow Water
Max Range: 3.7 km
Properties: Search Pattern, Bearing-Only Launch (BOL), Re-Attack Capability
Torpedo Seeker – (Yu-5, ASW & ASuW) Hull Sonar, Active/Passive Torpedo Seeker, Active/Passive
Max Range: 2.8 km
*Characteristics from the game database

Statistics

PLAYEROPFOR [A.I.]
Losses:
None
Losses:
1x Type 093B Shang
Expenditures:
2x Mk48 Mod 7 ADCAP CBASS
Expenditures:
2x Generic Acoustic Decoy

Notes from the message log

*Time reported in ZULU time.

  1. 5/14/2020 9:38:40 PM – [OPFOR] New contact! Designated GOBLIN #1 – Detected by Type 093B Shang [Sensors: China SJG-206A TASS] at 68deg – Estimated 12nm
  2. 10:42:20 PM – [Player] New contact! Designated GOBLIN #1 – Detected by SSN 771 Columbia [Improved Los Angeles Class] [Sensors: AN/BQQ-10] at 250deg – Estimated 15nm
  3. 10:43:55 PM – [OPFOR] Contact: GOBLIN #1 has been type-classified as: SSN (Classification by: Type 093B Shang [Sensor: China SJG-206A TASS] at Estimated 10 nm)
  4. 10:46:05 PM – [Player] Contact: GOBLIN #1 has been type-classified as: SSN (Classification by: SSN 771 Columbia [Improved Los Angeles Class] [Sensor: AN/BQQ-10] at Estimated 9 nm)
  5. 10:51:40 PM – [OPFOR] New contact! Designated TORPEDO #2 – Detected by Type 093B Shang [Sensors: China SJG-206A TASS] at 70deg – Estimated 14nm
  6. 10:51:43 PM – [OPFOR] New contact! Designated TORPEDO #3 – Detected by Type 093B Shang [Sensors: China SQC-1 [DSUV 2H + DUUA 2D]] at 70deg – Estimated 11nm
  7. 10:52:41 PM – [Player] Contact: SSN #1 has been classified as: Type 093B Shang – Determined as: Hostile (Classification by: SSN 771 Columbia [Improved Los Angeles Class] [Sensor: AN/TB-29A] at Estimated 8 nm)
  8. 10:55:41 PM – [Player] Contact: Type 093B Shang #1 has been positively identified as: Type 093B Shang – Determined as: Hostile (ID by: SSN 771 Columbia [Improved Los Angeles Class] [Sensor: AN/TB-29A] at Estimated 8 nm)
  9. 11:03:14 PM – Decoy (Generic Acoustic Decoy; Tech: Early 2000s) from Type 093B Shang is attempting to seduce sensor: Torpedo Seeker (Tech: Late 2000s)(Guiding weapon: Mk48 Mod 7 ADCAP CBASS #35). Final probability: 15%. Result: 75 – FAILURE
  10. 11:03:14 PM – Torpedo Mk48 Mod 7 ADCAP CBASS #35 is attacking Type 093B Shang with a base PH of 85%. Final PH: 85%. Result: 84 – HIT
  11. 11:03:14 PM – Weapon: Mk48 Mod 7 ADCAP CBASS #35 has impacted Type 093B Shang.
  12. 11:03:14 PM – [OPFOR] Type 093B Shang has been destroyed!

Evaluation

It’s worth noting that one of the dominant factors in success here is the role that Rules of Engagement (ROE) play. In this case, the Shang had a TIGHT, and hence more restrictive, ROE that would only fire on contacts that were positively ID’d as hostile. In contrast, Columbia had a FREE, and looser, ROE that would fire on contacts before they were positively ID’d as hostile. Note that the Shang detected the Columbia about 4 minutes earlier, yet the Columbia fired first. Since it takes time to determine if a contact is friendly, neutral, or hostile, it could therefore be argued that the Columbia’s looser ROE was the deciding factor and it allowed her to get the first, and only, shots off. The difference in ROE doesn’t necessarily make the simulation invalid. Effectively, it can be used to simulate a force with an itchy trigger finger that is quick to fire on ambiguous targets. In the case of Quick Battles, since there’s no other traffic in the area of operations, then all ambiguity is removed anyway. (But hey, that’s just me meta-gaming. I see no need to get too deep into a submarine vs. submarine Quick Battle. Ba dum tsch!!)

I start the Quick Battle (QB) by setting up a mission in a circular patrol area of 20nm because that’s the starting separation between the forces. Therefore, I know the enemy submarine will be somewhere at the boundary of that area and perhaps moving within it.

I’m no submariner, but (partially due to) knowing somewhat how the game mechanics work, I decided to maintain a speed of 5 knots (creep) which would both keep me moving and quiet. I didn’t know at what depth the Shang was so I maintained my depth at just above the thermal layer to hear above it and allow my towed array to dip (and listen) below it. If I wanted to travel quicker, then going deep is the best option since there’s less cavitation the deeper you go. However, the faster you go, the louder you are, and the worse your passive sonar capabilities are. I think the preferred speed is 10 knots or less! In any case, there wasn’t a need for me to go deep. Active sonar instantly gives your position away, so there’s really (99.9%) no need to use it! So, I didn’t.

As I mentioned in a previous quick battle, submarines are the original stealth vessels at sea. Modern Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) surface ships and helicopters are perfectly capable of locating and hunting submarines, but arguably the most efficient way to hunt and kill another submarine is to use…another submarine. That’s the job of fast-attack subs. As usual, it’s a cat-and-mouse game underwater. The use of submarines for espionage during the Cold War is but one example, although no U.S. subs have fired a torpedo “in anger” since WWII.

One interesting thing is that the Shang detected the Columbia about 4 minutes prior to the Columbia detecting the Shang, and at a closer estimated range. However, note that the Shang detected Columbia with its towed array versus the Columbia which detected the Shang with its hull sonar. Assuming that the bearings (068 for the Shang and 250 for the Columbia) are true bearings, this would suggest that the Shang was turned away from the Columbia at the time contact was made. Hence, why the Shang’s towed array detected Columbia. (Note: I don’t always trust what’s visually shown on the 3D TacView since it’s not 100% accurate anyway).

The difference in sound signatures is also apparent when comparing the two submarines. In all aspects and at all frequencies, the Shang has a higher average sound signature. Again, the differences in sound signatures and detection times/range aside, Columbia fired first and the Shang apparently tried to run from the torpedoes given that she increased speed to 30 knots.

Alternatives

  • The Columbia could’ve changed its depth/speed and searched around the patrol area differently.
  • The Columbia could’ve stupidly used its active sonar to search.
  • The Columbia could’ve been sunk by the Shang.
  • The Columbia and Shang could’ve both fired torpedoes and killed each other.
  • The Columbia could’ve failed to find and/or sink the Shang (Yes, that has happened in a few quick battles I’ve played).
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