As submarines become quieter and stealthier, we need ways to protect our Navy surface vessels, off-shore oil assets, and coastlines. In the past decade the Chinese, for instance, have submarines that are vastly harder to detect. In fact, one surprising surfaced in the middle of a Naval War Game near a US Aircraft Carrier supposedly undetected. The US and our allies need better detection technology to overcome this new challenge to maintain Naval Superiority at a time of rapidly advancing quiet submarines. Perhaps, a new discovery may indeed be the answer to this challenge?
You see recently a group of scientists came up with a novel way to detect things underwater using atomic magnetometers. There was an article and a video explaining this in Physics World; “Atomic magnetometers detect underwater objects,” published on April 18, 2018 which stated that; “a new technique using magnetic fields to detect underwater objects has been discovered” and further:
“The fields induce electric currents in metallic objects and the resulting magnetic echo is detected by an array of atomic magnetometers. Detecting objects in water using electromagnetic radiation is extremely difficult because light and other radiation attenuates rapidly as it passes through water. This is not the case with sound, which is why sonar is ‘unrivalled in deep water’ for detecting objects, however at shallower depths, the echo from the seabed can blind sonar to an object.”
Now then, will this new technology make all foreign military submarines obsolete no matter how quiet they are? The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, all have quiet submarines. So too, do our allies, now 20 nations have submarines, of those about half have one or more of these state-of-the-art quiet running subs. This could be a game-changer for US and allied Navies, however, now that the cat is out of the bag, now what? Is there a way to keep our submarine assets safe from detection? Sure there is, but it will take more research, patience, and years to overcome.
Perhaps, it is time to start making our submarines out of new materials, and for sure our AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) used for swarming strategies out of something else? Also the propulsion system needs to run without metal parts – is that even possible you ask? Maybe by using some material memory propulsion system and fins like a whale or dolphin, and a craft made almost entirely out of composite material this feat could be accomplished. Easier said than done considering how light such materials are and the challenge of keeping such underwater maritime assets fully submerged. Please think on this.