How can a submarine escape a nuclear warhead torpedo depth charge attack?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 06, 2020 03:41 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 06, 2020 03:41 PM

This is the destroyer USS Agerholm conducting a live test of a RUR-5 ASROC antisubmarine rocket with its 10 kiloton W44 nuclear depth charge warhead, as part of the “Operation Dominic I” round of nuclear tests in 1962; the designation for this specific shot was “Swordfish”. The ASROC was fired at a target raft moored approximately four thousand meters away from the destroyer, demonstrating that contrary to common myth, nuclear depth charges were not “suicide weapons” that would destroy the launch platform as well.

What you don’t see in this picture is that there’s also a U.S. Navy submarine, the USS Razorback, submerged at periscope depth at the same distance of four thousand meters. The Razorback was fully manned and was expected to survive the underwater shockwave undamaged at that range, but a number of additional destroyers were standing by to provide immediate aid should this prove to be wrong.

It wasn’t wrong. The Razorback was severely rattled by the shockwave — much more so than the Agerholm — but it too survived. This demonstrates that the primary survival strategy against nuclear depth charges is the same as against conventional depth charges: the blast of the explosion dissipates exponentially over distance, so simply being far enough away is the best defense.

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