Impact of submarines during cold war

The Cold War started soon after World War Two. The main rivals of Cold War were Soviet Union and the United States. Since both United States and Soviet Union were afraid of attacking each other directly, they resulted to indirect form of attacks where they threatened each other; they took sides in conflicts in other parts of the world as well as defaming each other’s reputation. However, Cold War was potentially dangerous since the two superpowers (Soviet Union and United states) had nuclear missiles and the means to launch them against their enemy if they were provoked, nuclear power had been developed a number of years before.

After the Second World War there was stiff competition between the two superpowers to construct nuclear powered submarines. (Gary E. W. ) Submarines played a very important role because they utilized the stealth advantage to study the enemy without being noticed. Impact of Submarine on United States and soviet relationship during the cold war United States sole purpose of manufacturing the submarines was mainly to deter other countries and more so the Soviet Union from having an upper edge as a world superpower. There was therefore a continuous competition between the two powers to construct more advanced submarines.

(Gary E. W. ) By late the 1950s, America had successfully built a nuclear –powered ballistic missile submarine, this made the Soviets more determined than ever before to catch up with the military advantage that United States had achieved. As a result of their efforts, the Soviets were able to produce their first nuclear powered submarine, which was subjected to sea trials in 1960. This submarine was referred to as K-19. (Norman P. & Moore K. J. 234) However, K-19 was later destroyed when it caught fire on its first mission.

This was brought about by poor safety precautions when the submarine was sent to its first mission before it was fully operational. Many of the personnel aboard were burnt while others were exposed to radioactive materials and the rest drowned. Only few of them who were lucky enough managed to escape with minor injuries. By 1978, the submarines were very effective war machines because apart from attacking the enemy in a very covert manner, they could be used as reconnaissance tools, which could enter the enemy territory without any notice to gather intelligence information.

For example a U. S submarine called Batsman trailed a Soviet nuclear submarine through the East Coast of America. According to military experts, this contributed to the end of Cold War since Russia was prompted to develop more expensive and quiet designs of submarines. Many people believe that the increased strain on the military budget that went towards design and development of quieter submarines contributed to the weakening of the defensive capability of the Soviet Union. (John P. C. 44)

As stated before the submarines were effectively used for spying on the rivals. Spying involved top-secret missions whereby the submarines could go undetected up to the coast and even the harbor to collect intelligence information. Previously it was extremely difficult to gather any tangible intelligence on what the Soviets were up to, but this changed when one submarine discovered the existence of undersea communication cables in the Sea of Okhotsk. This discovery alone led to “one of Cold War’s most secretive and successful spy operation”.

The cables could be tapped to eavesdrop on the planning of the Soviets, such tapping mainly took place at the Sea of Okhotsk (was near Petropavlovsk a submarine base) and the Barents Sea in Murmansk a Soviet missile submarine base and the headquarters for the Northern fleet). (William J. B) The plans the Soviets were putting into place were deciphered giving the U. S an upper hand. (William J. B) One such tapping in 1984 at the Barents’s Sea, helped America monitor “a high level Soviet alert in 1983”, it revealed a Soviet submarine missile planning.

This was an incredible intelligence breakthrough. (William J. B). Such American submarine fleet that included the Seawolf, the Russell, the Parche and the Halibut did the various tapping. (William J. B). Cuba Crisis In 1962,the United States and the Soviet Union almost started a global nuclear war. The soviet premier, Nikita Krushev, started providing Cuba with medium range and intermediate range ballistic missiles. These nuclear missiles would have been used as deadly weapons against American cities and military hadn’t they been discovered.

However the US navies were able to discover this arrangement between Cuba and Soviet Union. The powerful ballistic missiles firing submarines made Khrushev reluctant to start an aggressive attack on the United States after discovering that the Soviet weapons and submarines were not as superior as those ones of the U. S. (John P. C 28) The navy through their submarines, the air force and other military departments of US assembled their weapons and prepared for war. The US navy played a pivotal role in these operations that resulted to the Soviet withdrawing.

After the US navy developed a carrier-based nuclear strike capability towards the end of 1950 and the “Polaris Missile submarine” later in the early 1960s, the Soviet navy shifted their mission and made submarine carriers as well. These submarines, just like the ones for the United States, could be remain undetected for a long period. The United State’s navy resulted to developing new sources of intelligence to track the Soviet ships leaving the ports and the submarines became handy for such missions.

The US reconnaissance satellite also helped to detect soviet submarine as they were being prepared for the sea. The information was relayed to sources networks, which would track down Soviet submarines bound for the sea. However the Soviet intelligence also acquired intelligence information about the US submarine operations, sources program, war plans and communication program from John A Walker a communication specialists in the US navy who had access to top classified information. From this information, the soviets re-evaluated their war plans. (John P. C 34)

The Soviets Navy resulted to tactics such as hiding under fleets of merchant ships while on transit. By this method, some submarines were able to intrude into the Pacific and the Atlantic Coasts without being detected by the U. S. (John P. C 24) Conclusion The submarines that were being produced in both United States and Soviet Union served a very important role to shape the relationship between these two superpowers. Some times submarines helped the navy to collect military intelligence information while at other times they were used to threaten other nations whenever it was necessary.

The information proved very important to some countries like United States, which were able to avert the inevitable attack that Cuba with Russia’s support had planned against it. In the Cuban Crisis the American Navy was able to discover the arrangement the Russian president had with Cuba to provide it with weapons, which would in turn, have been used against the Americans. (John P. C 54) The submarines were also particularly important in that they had the ability to fire the missiles when necessary.

The submarines ware very important in that atomic bombs could not be launched from the sea in their absence. The information collected by US navy also played a key role in bringing the end of the Cold War. Credit is always given to the American Navy for ending the Cold War, which ended in 1991. The tapping at the Barent’s Sea was perhaps the greatest discovery that shaped the future of the Cold War.

Works Cited

Dr. Gary E. Weir: Deep Ocean, Cold War: Retrieved on 13th April from http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/usw/issue_27/asw.html.