Update: US Ohio Class Submarine Visible on Microsoft’s Live Search

After it was revealed that the propeller on a Ohio-Class ballistic-missile submarine was available on Microsoft’s Live Search, there has been much made of this very sensitive naval technology. With some military experts bemoaning the fact that people “in places like Waziristan who want us dead” now have access to the image.

First, to exploit the knowledge gained from viewing the propeller, an enemy would have to duplicate it, or integrate its advancements into its own designs. How likely is it that enemy in Waziristan is currently building ballistic-missile submarine that has the capabilities of an Ohio Class? Extremely unlikely.

Second, the military has taken no steps to have this image removed or obscured. Air Force Maj. Patrick Ryder, a public affairs officer at the Pentagon, said the Defense Department has never asked that such imagery be obscured or removed.

 

“It is not DoD’s policy, nor do we have the legal authority, to request or demand the degrading of commercial imagery (aerial or satellite) hosted on Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth,” he said in an e-mail. “DoD is not in the business of censoring information in the public domain.”

 

It is clear that the government has been successful in persuading companies like Google to obscure images. For example, go to 42°27′34.31″N 71°16′58.01″W on Google Maps and it is clear that Hanscom Air Force Base is obscured.

Third, it may be that the Navy does not object to this picture. Could this be because conventional multi-blade screws are obsolete? For example, the Le Triomphant SNLE is equipped with “a ducted propeller, called ‘propeller pump‘” as opposed to a traditional propeller.

Before we declare the world is coming to an end, it may be helpful to take a second look at the realities.

yojoe out

3 Responses

  1. GIVEN ONLY A PHOTOGRAPH TO GO BY, I WOULD THINK THAT PRODUCING A RESONABLE FACSIMILE OF A SENSITIVE PROPELLER DESIGN IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN MIGHT FIRST APPEAR. WHILE PERHAPS EARLIER COMPROMISED, MACHINE TOOLS AND SOFTWARE TO PRODUCE THE PROPELLER TO EXACT SPECIFICATIONS ARE NOT WIDELY AVAILABLE. HOW DOES ANOTHER’S OWN DESIGN COMPARE TO OURS AND WOULD SUCH AN INVESTMENT OF TIME AND MONEY BE WORTH THE RESULT? THIS IS NOT TO SAY WE SHOULD MAKE IT EASY FOR OUR ADVARSARIES. BILL BONNETT

  2. First off as a former employee of electric boat ship building yard where the Ohio class, and Seawolf class submarines are built I can tell you that the exact shape of the screw ( that’s what the propeller is called ). is a closely guarded secret. 2 nd I don’t believe that b.s. about not censoring. It’s called national security, and they can do anything in it’s name. 3 rd, Our government and every other government have always practiced the game of disinformation. So chances are the pic. is a fake, the screw is out dated. or the pic is so horrible that they’re not even remotely worried.

  3. Bearmonster – Thank to so much for your comment. It is great to have people with such knowledge comment on a post. All of your points are well taken. Just a hunch, but your 3rd point may be the most spot on. Either the Navy does not care who knows about the screw, because we have a better propulsion system, or the Navy wants someone (any advisory) to think that is what the screw looks like.

    Thanks again for the comment and your service to the silent service.

    yojoe

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