In one of the theories of the downing of flight 800, it is postulated that a coordinated attack was being tried, with a submarine launched missile against a target drone being painted by the distant Aegis.
This requires that the Aegis, or other command authority, be able to pass a launch command down to the submerged submarine.
These are some of the means by which submarines communicate with the surface.
The Navy maintains a typical VLF station (NAA) at Cutler, Maine, transmitting continuously on 17.8 kHz with power of 2,000,000 watts; and another (NLK) at Jim Creek, WA., on 18.6 kHz with 1,000,000 watts. (NOTE: These frequencies were provided by one military source, but are claimed to be inaccurate by another). These and others send a continuous string of data, which is phase modulated onto the carrier.
In all, a total of 7 U.S. ELV/VLF sites are known to be in operation.
In addition, the TACAMO command and control aircraft are able to directly transmit VLF messages using a trailing wire antenna.
At the frequencies, a quarter wave is, indeed, about five miles, but that's just a red herring. Neither a surface ship nor a sub could trail an antenna in the water and try to transmit a signal; you'd just have a dead short to ground! A surface ship could, however, easily send a signal to a sub, simply by sending the message to Cutler, ME or Jim Creek, WA, by satellite. There, the message could be slipped into the data stream and arrive at the sub within a couple of seconds.
Submarines don't require long wire antennas to receive these transmissions. They sometimes use faraday shielded loops on remote buoys, although the connection wires to the buoy can vibrate in the water flow, revealing a sub's location to enemy sonar.
The following picture is from a book on submarine warfare printed in 1987.
There is an optical window in the blue-green part of the spectrum which enables laser transmissions to penetrate the ocean a substantial distance.
According to this source, in 1987, the United States was developing laser based communications systems for high speed communications with submarines. One must assume a certain progress after 9 years.
Laser communications offer many advantages in addition to high speed.
While surfaced in clear weather, a submarine enjoys high speed, unjammable communications which cannot be used to locate the sub itself.
When submerged, the system is one way to the sub, like VLF/ELF, but (based on the surface conditions refracting entering laser light) would operate at 300 times the data rate of VLF/ELF.
XSTAT is an expendable radio transceiver deployed on an 8000 foot wire tether. It allows a submerged submarine to deploy a short high band radio antenna above the water more than a mile from its true position
The existence of a two way laser based aircraft to submarine communications system is confirmed by the following article from the Office Of Naval Research on the accomplishments of USS Dolphin.
USS DOLPHIN (AGSS 555) A picture of the USS Dolphin USS DOLPHIN is the Navy's deep diving submarine designed to test advanced submarine structures, sensors, weapons, communications, and machinery systems. USS DOLPHIN serves as a scientific platform capable of operations at unprecedented depths greatly exceeding that of any known operational submarine. In November 1968, she set a depth record for operating submarines that still stands. In August 1969, she launched a torpedo from the deepest depth that one has ever been fired. Utilizing a large payload (over 12 metric tons) and a highly versatile instrumentation suite, civilian and Naval activities employ USS DOLPHIN for testing a multitude of technologically advanced and complex equipment. Presently configured to conduct extensively deep water acoustic research, oceanic survey work, sensor trials, and engineering evaluations, USS DOLPHIN operates as a Unit of the U.S. Naval Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, under Commander, Submarine Development Group One. In over twenty years of operations, USS DOLPHIN has proven most successful in assessing "the overall Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) significance of deep diving submarines" and exploiting "the limits of present technology in designing for deep depths." Her operations have been broad based and far reaching, and they include development of operational concepts and testing of advanced engineering design features, weapons, launcher and fire control systems, and deep ocean acoustics. Much of this work is necessarily classified, but examples of USS DOLPHIN's specific achievements are listed in the following list. The Dolphin's Crest * First successful submarine-to-aircraft optical communications * Development of a Laser Imaging system of photographic clarity * Development of an Extreme Low Frequency (ELF) antenna for TRIDENT * Evaluation of various non-acoustic ASW techniques * Evaluation of various low probability of interception active sonars * First submarine launch of a MOSS system * First successful submarine test of BQS-15 sonar system * Development of highly accurate (10 cm) towed body position monitoring system * deepest launching of a torpedo * Development of a new Obstacle Avoidance Sonar system * Development of a highly accurate target management system * Evaluation of a possible "fifth force of nature" The USS DOLPHIN has achieved a great deal of success in each of her endeavors and has many firsts added to her record. She has indeed proved the feasibility of operating deep in the ocean. The single most significant technical achievement in the development of the USS DOLPHIN is the pressure hull itself. It is a constant diameter cylinder, closed at its ends with hemispherical heads, and utilizes deep frames instead of bulkheads. The entire design of the pressure hull has been kept as simple as possible to facilitate its use in structural experiments and trails. Hull openings have been minimized for structural strength and minimum hull weight, in addition to eliminating possible sources for flooding casualties. The USS DOLPHIN 's unique capabilities allow her to conduct independent deep ocean research missions. She is a unique blend of the lessons learned of the past and the most advanced technology of the present. The USS DOLPHIN's continuing contributions to research and development will significantly influence the design of 21st century submarine sonar, weapon, communications, and engineering systems. Information from USS DOLPHIN's Welcome Aboard pamphlet. _________________________________________________________________ The USS DOLPHIN is the second submarine of the name. The first USS Dolphin (SS 169) was a forerunner of the "Fleet Boat" class of submarines - the work horses of WWII. _________________________________________________________________ Return to my home page Return to Physics Department Faculty List Return to Physics Department Homepage Return to United States Naval Academy Homepage _________________________________________________________________ Last updated on 18 September 1995 by LCDR P J Hoffman, firstname.lastname@example.org
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