Concept

Communication with submarines

Summary
Communication with submarines is a field within military communications that presents technical challenges and requires specialized technology. Because radio waves do not travel well through good electrical conductors like salt water, submerged submarines are cut off from radio communication with their command authorities at ordinary radio frequencies. Submarines can surface and raise an antenna above the sea level, or float a tethered buoy carrying an antenna, then use ordinary radio transmissions; however, this makes them vulnerable to detection by anti-submarine warfare forces. Early submarines during World War II mostly travelled on the surface because of their limited underwater speed and endurance, and dove mainly to evade immediate threats or for stealthy approach to their targets. During the Cold War, however, nuclear-powered submarines were developed that could stay submerged for months. In the event of a nuclear war, submerged ballistic missile submarines have to be ordered quickly to launch their missiles. Transmitting messages to these submarines is an active area of research. Very low frequency (VLF) radio waves can penetrate seawater just over one hundred feet (30 metres), and many navies use powerful shore VLF transmitters for submarine communications. A few nations have built transmitters which use extremely low frequency (ELF) radio waves, which can penetrate seawater to reach submarines at operating depths, but these require huge antennas. Other techniques that have been used include sonar and blue lasers. Underwater acoustic communication Sound travels far in water, and underwater loudspeakers and hydrophones can cover quite a gap. Apparently, both the American (SOSUS) and the Russian navies have placed sonic communication equipment in the seabed of areas frequently travelled by their submarines and connected it by underwater communications cables to their land stations. If a submarine hides near such a device, it can stay in contact with its headquarters.
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