Could an aircraft carrier sink

The US Navy has suspended a multi-million dollar secret project that protects aircraft carriers from underwater torpedoes

US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker / Released

The US Navy has shed light on a formerly classified project to protect aircraft carriers from the use of torpedoes - and has now apparently failed.

The fleets of most potential opponents of war the US could encounter use torpedoes as autonomous underwater bombs.

The US Navy aircraft carriers are usually highly technologically advanced: They are floating airports powered by nuclear reactors. Now, after years of secret testing, the United States has abandoned its anti-torpedo program.

US aircraft carrier more vulnerable in future?

The U.S. Navy has canceled its anti-torpedo defense system and will remove the systems from five aircraft carriers on which they are installed. That comes from a Pentagon report that was published recently.

“In September 2018, the Navy ended its efforts to further develop the system. The Navy plans to restore all aircraft carriers to their original condition within the next four years with maintenance, ”says the report.

Michael D. Cole / US Navy

The report also shows that the anti-torpedo program has made progress in detecting and intercepting torpedoes over five years - but not enough. It is said that data on the reliability of the systems were too imprecise or even non-existent.

This should mean that the ships of the US Navy will in future be defenseless against submarine weapons - and this at a time when intelligence officials are warning that Russia and China's submarine fleets have recently grown rapidly and are a great danger represent for US ships.

After the end of the Cold War, the United States turned away from anti-submarine defense and focused on surface combat against ships. But the situation has changed: Russia, China and Iran reportedly have supercavitating torpedoes, torpedoes that create an air bubble around themselves as they shoot through the water at several hundred kilometers per hour.

The new class of fast torpedoes cannot be controlled, but can be fired straight ahead at US aircraft carriers, which in turn have little chance of detecting them.

Russian torpedoes have a range of 19 kilometers

Torpedoes do not directly collide with a ship, but instead use the explosion to create an air bubble under the ship that is designed to bend or break the ship's keel, causing the ship to sink.

Other Russian torpedoes have a range of over 12 miles and can evade defensive measures while heading for a ship.

During a combat exercise off the Florida coast in 2015, a small French submarine named Saphir was able to sneak through several defensive rings on defense ships and perform a simulated downing of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and half of its escorts, Reuters reported. In other US Navy exercises, old-fashioned diesel-electric submarines have sunk aircraft carriers.

$ 760 million for a failed torpedo defense system

Even technologically less developed countries like North Korea or Iran can use diesel-electric submarines and hide them in noisy coastal waters along key routes of the US Navy.

The United States has spent 760 million dollars (670 million euros) on the failed system, as reported by the online portal "The Drive".

The US Navy can use "nixies", that is, noise-making bait that the ship tows behind it to attract torpedoes, but it must first locate the torpedoes.

A US aircraft carrier is only ten knots slower than a normal torpedo at 30 knots, but with a deck full of planes and personnel, evasive maneuvers can be difficult.

This article has been translated from English.