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Dutch Submarine Sinks Half of US Navy CTF in 1990 and more Roger Thompson is Professor of Military Studies at Knightsbridge

University and a Fellow of the InterUniversity Seminar on Armed Forces and Society. In 1981, The NATO exercise Ocean Venture ended with much embarrassment for the U.S. Navy, and more specifically, its enormously expensive aircraft carrier battle groups. During the exercise, a Canadian submarine slipped quietly through a carrier's destroyer screen, and conducted a devastating simulated torpedo attack on the ship. The submarine was never detected, and when the exercise umpire, a U.S. Navy officer, pronounced the carrier dead, his official report was promptly stamped classified to minimize the potential fallout. Unfortunately, a Canadian submariner leaked the story to a local newspaper, and indicated that this successful Canadian attack on an American supercarrier was by no means an isolated incident. This news caused quite a stir in Congress, and the U.S. Navy had a lot of explaining to do. Why indeed had a small, 1960s-vintage diesel submarine of the under-funded Canadian Navy been able to defeat one of America s most powerful and expensive warships, and with such apparent ease? There are several possible answers. Firstly, Canadian submariners are extremely well trained and professional. Secondly, at that time, the Oberon submarines used by the Canadian Navy were probably the quietest in the world. A third possible reason, not so commonly stated, and with all due respect, is that the mighty U.S. Navy is simply overrated. It is my humble contention that the U.S. Navy is not all it's cracked up to be, and that is the focus of the present article. Diesel Subs Feast on U.S. Carriers While Canadian submarines have routinely taken on U.S. Navy carriers, other small navies have enjoyed similar victories. The Royal Netherlands Navy, with its small force of extremely quiet diesel submarines, has made the U.S. Navy eat the proverbial slice of humble pie on more than one occasion. In 1989, naval analyst Norman Polmar wrote in Naval Forces that during NATO s exercise Northern Star, the Dutch submarine Zwaardvis was the only orange (enemy) submarine to successfully stalk and sink a blue (allied) aircraft carrier Ten years later there were reports that the Dutch submarine Walrus had been even more successful in the exercise JTFEX/TMDI99. During this exercise the Walrus penetrates the U.S. screen and sinks many ships, including the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71. The submarine launches two attacks and manages to sneak away. To celebrate the sinking the crew designed a special T- shirt. Fittingly, the T-shirt depicted the USS Theodore Roosevelt impaled on the tusks of a walrus. It was also reported that the Walrus also sank many of the Roosevelt's escorts, including the nuclear submarine USS Boise, a cruiser, several destroyers and frigates, plus the command ship USS Mount Whitney. The Walrus herself survived the exercise with no damage.

Not to be outdone by the Canadians and Dutch, the Australian submarine force has also scored many goals against U.S. Navy carriers and nuclear submarines. On September 24 2003, the Australian newspaper The Age disclosed that Australia's Collins class diesel submarines had taught the U.S. Navy a few lessons during multinational exercises. By the end of the exercises, Australian submarines had destroyed two U.S. Navy nuclear attack submarines and an aircraft carrier. According to the article: The Americans were wide-eyed, Commodore Deeks (Commander of the RAN Submarine Group) said. They realized that another navies knows how to operate submarines. They were quite impressed.