The Delta Force scenario of the recently released The Silent Service DLC/standalone is just one example. In this scenario, which revolves around one of the most nightmarish types of offensive warfare (nuclear strikes from strategic submarines), you are in command of one Victor III Class Russian Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine (SSN, Daniil Moskovskiy) and one Delta IV Class Russian Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN, Bryansk). The mission in this exercise is to get into any of the launch areas, get targeting data and launch ballistic missiles. And make it back alive to the safe zone, at least with the Bryansk. Your very comrades are ready to sink your good graces with the admiralty: 3 ASW groups, complete with a Sierra II and one Akula I submarine.
I'm no expert in Russian naval doctrine and the sources I have are moderately dated. In his treatise about Soviet Naval Tactics, Milan Vego mentions that SSBNs exiting their bases would use the security/scout services of surface ASW assets and later maybe an attack submarine attack during its transit to its mission area. But Vego also mentions that the Soviets have abandoned that practice of having an attack submarine escorting an SSN or SSBN with other submarines during transit. In other passage, Vego mentions that submarine group operations are sometimes used. The Russian submarine doctrine (or the interpretation by the Western naval intelligence) appears to be flexible ...
That's why when I read the briefing of the Delta Force Scenario I got really curious. How would a submarine use another submarine as an escort during transit? Off course, this is not specifically a garden variety "transit". Maybe even the tactical term is different. But I'm trying to get the Bryansk into a launch site without getting detected, pretty much like a transit. Except that I now know there are bad guys out there, without any doubt.
The only source I have for a two Soviet submarines' coordinated transit is a 1972 CIA Intelligence Report recently declassified. In the figure below, a Y-Class ballistic submarine is accompanied by a C-Class attack submarine. Note how the C-Class's position is always behind the Y-Class, trying to avoid a Western submarine from trailing the ballistic submarine.
I tried this in the Delta Force scenario and it works like a charm. Off course some changes were needed for the mission: the main axis threat is from the south and southeast, so the Daniil Moskovskiy will have to be always ahead of the Bryansk.
|Plotted courses for the Bryansk and the Moskovskiv in their "transit" towards launch site Olga. The speed of the Moskovskiv is a bit high (12 kkts) but it will be reduced as soon as the submarine exists the safe zone.|
|New contact! We caught the Akula with its pants down some 15 nm west of launch site Olga. Note how the Akula I apparently did not detect us.|
|Patiently waiting for the Akula to come within our torpedoes range (grey arc). Not an easy thing to do while the clock is ticking (the mission has a time limit).|
We destroyed the Akula and moved on. Now with every single ship that heard the explosions on our heels.
The Cold War never cooled down enough.