Modern Submarines and Littoral Waters

The fact that we have submarines in the Persian Gulf will come as a surprise to no one. However, when one of those submarines runs into an oil tanker, people sit up and take notice.

The problem, of course, is that much of the Gulf consists of littoral waters - shallow, choppy, coast-bound water that fills the sonar spectrum with noise. The average depth in the Strait is only about 25 meters, and the hull of the Los Angeles class fast attack sub is 10 meters just by itself, not counting the conning tower above that. Given the fact that 35% of the world's oil production travels through the Strait of Hormuz, it's a busy place - and tight to begin with because of the depth.

Under the mission conditions, the skipper would have to be under serious duress to order a surfacing. After all, what good is a submarine whose location the enemy knows? Perhaps, given the general tightness, this was inevitable, but it still rankles.

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