Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentMilitary · 7 years ago

Why do Aircraft Carriers have no Sonar?

They are dependent on their Cruiser, Destroyer, and Frigate escorts. If there is no escort an Aircraft Carrier is a sitting duck and a Submarine could literally hide underneath it.

Update:

I'm just saying that just because an aircraft carrier has escorts it doesn't mean it is 100% safe. There was an incident back in 1985 off the coast of Japan where the carrier USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 collided with a Victor Class Russian submarine. The carrier and its escort failed to detect and we collided with the sub. I happened to be onboard the Kitty Hawk when it happened. I worked as an HT and got woken up around 2200, reported to DC Central and was ordered to do void testing Forward and Aft. If I am not mistaken another incident happened in 97' where the Kitty Hawk failed to detect a Chinese submarine.

Update 2:

@Archangel: I may have gotten the dates wrong since it happened a long time ago. If I had copied everything from Wikkipedia word for word like you did I may have been more accurate. I do remember my former CO's name-Captain David Rogers.

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  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    In March 1984, Kitty Hawk participated in "Team Spirit" exercises in the Sea of Japan. The Soviet Victor-class nuclear attack submarine K-314 shadowed the task group. On 21 March 1984, at the end of the Sea of Japan part of the exercise, K-314 surfaced directly in front of Kitty Hawk, far too close for "Kitty Hawk" to avoid the resulting collision, with minor damage to the aircraft carrier, and significant damage to the Soviet submarine.

    The collision occurred despite the Incidents at Sea agreement that SECNAV John Warner and Admiral Sergei Gorshkov had signed in 1972. This agreement, designed to uphold the United States’ long cherished belief in freedom of the seas and prevent dangerous and hostile collisions at sea, was ignored in this instance. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James Watkins reflected, “The reason behind the Soviet submarine captain’s slip in judgment is the only mystery here. He showed uncharacteristically poor seamanship in not staying clear of Kitty Hawk. That should cause concern in Moscow.”

    So, your dates are wrong and second, if the carrier was at speed, sonar would have done no good anyway in that situation. If I am not mistaken, the escorts knew the sub was out there during the entire exercise. During the exercise it had been tracked and “killed” more than fifteen times after it was spotted on the surface fifty miles in front of the battle group. The incident was akin to some idiot on the freeway cutting off a semi-truck. Like the truck, a carrier can't stop or turn on a dime.

    As to the Chinese incident, just good submarine operations on the part of the Chinese. Do you know what a thermocline is? Subs use a technique to hide in different thermal layers in the ocean to avoid detection by sonar. If you don't have sonar operators at the very top of their game, any good sub operator can do this.

    Edit: Yes, I copied the portion with the date because I too remember the incident and wanted to be clear. However, I knew it wasn't in '85 because I participated in Team Spirit then and was in Okinawa so I knew it wasn't in '85. I was just checking to see what actually happened to cause the collision. Since neither of us have access to the actual Navy findings (as far as I know), it is only an assumption that it was not detected before the collision. You were asleep and as you say, it was a long time ago. Again, if you were at speed (20 knots plus) and the sub was in a different thermal layer, sonar wouldn't have helped or seen it in time for the Kitty Hawk to avoid it. BTW, I believe the Chinese sub incident occurred in 2007...right after I retired; not 1997. I had just left Okinawa for the last time....thought it was comical as stuff like that was why I was retiring. My commander's name was Col Carver. in 1985.

    Source(s): I work with many submariners. I currently supervise a former hull tech as well.
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  • 7 years ago

    Why would they need sonar? Yes, with no escort an aircraft carrier is a sitting duck. That's why aircraft carriers N-E-V-E-R go ANYWHERE without an escort. And not just one. Carriers operate as part of a carrier battle group. An entire group of ships and subs supporting them. Yes, there are attack subs that are part of carrier groups. And the sonar would actually CAUSE the carrier to be in much more danger. It would give its position away. It's the same reason carriers don't run their radar other than when absolutely necessary. They let the escorts do that.

    @ Mark F: The USS America was the only American carrier built with a sonar, well after WW2. But it was removed in the 80's.

    Yeah, I said AFTER WW2...

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  • Mark F
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Not true. Some aircraft carriers have been fitted with sonar. While a carrier hull generally makes a good sonar platform, the tempo of carrier operations makes a hull mounted sonar fairly useless much of the time.

    Why would an aircraft carrier ever be conducting combat operations without an escort?

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  • 7 years ago

    They generally go too fast to bother with it. And as mentioned, CVs don't go anywhere without escorts anyway.

    @George Patton: not the only carrier, the only post-WWII carrier. Some of the CVLs had them as well, as did some of the ESSEX class that were converted to CVS-anti submarine warfare carriers. They did really, really good with them, as well-better than their escorts some of the time.

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  • 7 years ago

    They have choppers dedicated to setting up sonobuoys if they think they need them, as well as P3 Orion's.

    Plus they are never alone, despite what Hollywood likes to show a carrier never goes anywhere alone, it's like the president in a sense.

    Edit

    P3 Orion's are not on a carrier, but their range gives them the ability to help in anti-submarine matters if necessary and the carrier is in range.

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  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    They have Helicopters with dipping sonar.

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  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    I'm extremely curious about the answer to this question

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  • Teekno
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    There is never "no escort."

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