2019 - NATO ANTI-SUBMARINE WARFARE: REBUILDING CAPABILITY, PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE - Revised Draft Special Report

Leona ALLESLEV (Canada)

23 August 2019

In recent years, Allies have seen a sizeable increase in Russian submarine patrols in NATO areas of operation. As Admiral James G. Foggo III, current Commander of the US Naval Forces Europe and NATO Joint Force Command Naples, has argued, “Russian submarines are prowling the Atlantic, testing our defences, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give them an edge in any future conflict”.

While Russia may be the most immediate submarine threat to the Alliance, other submarine trends should concern Allies as well. China’s expanding global forays go hand-in-hand with increasing defence investments, including submarine modernisation. And North Korea seeks to develop submarines armed with sea-launched ballistic missiles too. 

Regrettably, NATO faces a severe shortfall of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities. This draft report thus squarely focuses on the need to rebuild NATO’s ASW assets in the short and long term. 

The draft report: 

-    demonstrates the importance of the sea for the Alliance;
-    examines the concrete Russian submarine threat to NATO;
-    highlights key developments in the Chinese and North Korean submarine fleets;
-    outlines the most critical ASW capability shortfalls in the Alliance;
-    presents important national and NATO modernisation efforts; and
-    sketches a future vision of ASW based on emerging technologies.

The draft report will be presented for adoption at the 2019 Annual Session in London, UK.