We welcomed Ed Conant, retired U.S. Naval Commander, to breakfast on Wednesday.  Our member Phil Turek introduced Ed, who is a graduate of the National War College with a BS in Marine Engineering and a MS in Operations research, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.  Ed told us of the development and capabilities of U.S submarines from their invention, their use in WWl and WWll, their increasingly deadly power, to the present time; “rarely seen or heard,” we must just be happy they are on our side.
Ed spoke of the invention of submarines, of the first and second world wars, of the Cold War, and the use of these craft through the years. His presentation was accompanied by striking pictures of these boats, always beautiful and menacing. He described the introduction of nuclear submarines, of ballistic missile technology, of missions for intelligence ops, of ops in the Arctic, of counter-terrorism activity. He moved from the Los Angeles class subs of the 1970s to the Virginia class boats of the present time. These are 8000 tons, 2000 tons bigger than their predecessors, 30-35 knots, 135 crew, first commissioned in 2004. There are no periscopes any more, and the missiles themselves are capable of being manipulated after firing. Ed showed detail of the Tomahawk missiles with an 800-1500 mile range, GPS guidance, in-flight re-targeting in the later models – and then the newest, the Trident submarine, five feet longer than the Washington monument is tall. The Trident missiles have a 7000 mile range, 100 yard accuracy, each missile has 14 warheads………Ed’s presentation ended with an innocent looking picture of the open sea, nothing visible, “rarely seen or heard,” just be happy they are our friends.

Answering questions, Ed said nuclear power has proved a safe and efficient fuel (diesels were slow-pokes) crews spend 70-90 days on a sub, women on board are doing just fine, there is a medic on board, serious medical conditions are kept stable until a port can be reached. There is entertainment such as movies, messages are forwarded to the ship but there are no direct incoming messages for crew. There is a treadmill, card games, can run around. Ed ended his presentation with information on sub construction; there are some 6000 suppliers in all with many parts suppliers, it is a formidable process, and realistically it cannot be shut down because reopening would be very difficult, especially if it had to be done on an emergency basis.