The Third Battle | 2003 | Publications

The Third Battle: Innovation in the U.S. Navy's Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines
The Third Battle

In The Third Battle, by Owen Cote, a manuscript developed under the editorial leadership of Dr. Thomas B. Grassey, then Press editor, Dr. Cote argues that the U.S. Navy’s innovative response to the Soviet submarine fleet during the Cold War represents the third great battle for control of the seas in the 20th century. Technology was always the key factor in the continuing seesaw peacetime race between the two superpowers. Dr. Cote, Associate Director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provides a critical groundbreaking perspective on this battle—quite different from the two that preceded it. During the two world wars, the then new and revolutionary submarine threatened the ability of the major naval powers to gain decisive control of the sea. In peacetime, the Allied powers were unable, or perhaps ultimately basically reluctant, to prepare innovative and effective measures to counter submarine use. In war, they then faced unrestricted submarine warfare and the attending significant losses. Those antisubmarine measures that were eventually developed were short-lived because of the close technological arms race between the combatants. It was only with the development in the mid-1980s of truly quiet Soviet nuclear submarines that the U.S. Navy decisively confronted the antisubmarine warfare challenge. Cote details the events leading to that point and presents a critical study of technological innovation with clear implications for challenges in the 21st century.