Naval Warfare

US Navy Submarine Chief Petty Officer recalls when his boat was pinged by the sonar of a Spruance-class destroyer (the sonar ping sound could be heard through the hull of his submarine)

The Spruance-class destroyer

The thirty-one Spruance-class destroyers were developed for the primary mission of anti-submarine warfare, including operations as an integral part of attack carrier forces.

Utilizing highly developed weapons systems (such as the AN/SQS-53B Hull Mounted Sonar and the AN/SQR-l9 (V) 3 Tactical Towed Array Sonar) the Spruance-class destroyers were designed to hunt down and destroy high speed submarines in all weather, but could also engage ships, aircraft, and shore targets. These multi-purpose combatants were also capable of providing naval gunfire support in conjunction with Marine amphibious operations worldwide.

Despite their capabilities, the US Navy retired the Spruance-class destroyers somewhat earlier than planned, decommissioning the last ship in 2005. Most Spruances were broken up or destroyed as targets (former USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964) now serves as a Self Defense Test Ship for experimental US Navy weapons and sensors). The class was succeeded as the main destroyer by the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

US Navy Submarine pinged by the sonar of a destroyer

James Clark, former US Navy Submarine Chief Petty Officer, recalls what it’s like being “pinged” by the sonar of a Spruance-class destroyer on Quora;

Spruance-class destroyer USS Briscoe (DD 977)

‘I have been pinged once by a surface ship. We were entering port near dawn and our Officer of the Deck was doing his periscope sweeps before surfacing. He sighted a nearby ship and then announced they had launched a helo. We dove deep and went full ahead.

‘With fifteen minutes this weird sound started emanating in our ship. It’s not a ping. It sounds more a blue whale has decided to open up an EDM club and is showing off its sick new beats. It’s a wavering sound that goes up and down in pitch.

‘The surface ship was a Spruance-class destroyer. It had sighted our periscope and decided to prosecute. We ran for a while, let them have some ASW training and then surfaced and went into port.’

Clark concludes;

‘When I am saying pinged once, I am referring to hearing the SONAR through the hull. It could be heard on the mess decks over the TV burning a flick. The sonar operators heard plenty in sonar. Most of the time when we conducted PASSEX the SONAR was either passive only or the Active SONAR was far enough away that it could only be picked up by our sensors.’

USS Asheville (SSN-758)

Photo credit: Chief Journalist Alan J. Baribeau / U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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