The Navy’s experimental Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo launches from the fantail of USS George HW Bush in May. US Navy Photo
In an age where missiles can shoot down ICBMs, the only surprise is that this has not happened sooner.
The US Naval Institute News is reporting that the Navy is developing a small torpedo to intercept Russian/Soviet designed torpedoes that are immune to normal acoustic torpedo countermeasures, because they follow the target’s wake rather than passively homing on the ship’s noise. I would expect it to work against other types of torpedoes as well.
The existence of wake homing torpedoes has been known for decades. Not mentioned in the article, but the Germans were working on these in WWII and the British unsuccessfully attempted to make a wake homer before the first World War.
Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of this hard kill system is expected in 2019 with fleet wide adoption by 2035. What are the implications for the Coast Guard, other than perhaps having the countermeasure on our largest ships?
This anti-torpedo torpedo (ATT) might be adapted to become the “ship stopper” I believe the Coast Guard needs to ensure the ability to stop determined terrorists in control of a medium to large ship. With its relatively small charge it might even be usable in more typical law enforcement situations. The Navy might also find it useful if they are engaged in a blockade operation. I wonder if it might also be useful against swarming small boats.
The ATT is only 6.75 inches in diameter, only slightly more than half the diameter of existing light weight ASW torpedoes. It probably weighs on the order of 100 pounds and the warhead is almost certainly less than 25 pounds, but it would likely suffice to destroy propellers and possibly the rudder of even a large vessel. The fact that it would likely stop a vessel without sinking it, might be seen as an advantage. It is also less likely to create collateral damage, and it would be less dangerous to own ship than the carriage of larger torpedoes. It would have a very small footprint and could be carried on even the smallest cutters.