Navy Deploying New Anti-Torpedo Technology

Anti-TorpedoThe Navy is gearing up for deployment and a new round of tests of its Surface Ship Torpedo Defense System — a high tech system designed to protect aircraft carriers by locating, tracking and intercepting incoming torpedoes, Navy leaders said Oct. 24 at the Naval Submarine League, Falls Church, Va.

The upcoming tests, slated to take place on the USS George H.W. Bush, are designed as a follow on to initial end-to-end testing of an early prototype model aboard the Bush this past May. The Navy plans to equip all aircraft carriers with SSTD by 2035.

The SSTD system, which consists of a sensor, processor and small interceptor missile, is a first-of-its-kind “hard kill” countermeasure for ships and carriers designed to defeat torpedoes, said Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, Program Executive Officer, Submarines.

The SSTD is slated for additional testing on board the USS Bush next month in what’s called  a Quick Reaction Assessment, Johnson said. The SSTD will be an Engineering Development Model of the technology, meaning it will be further tweaked and refined before deploying aboard the USS Bush in the near future.

Ships already have a layered system of defenses which includes sensors, radar and several interceptor technologies designed to intercept large, medium and small scale threats from a variety of ranges. For example, most aircraft carriers are currently configured with Sea Sparrow interceptor missiles designed to destroy incoming air and surface threats and the Phalanx Close-in-Weapons System, or CIWS. CIWS is a rapid-fire gun designed as an area weapon intended to protect ships from surface threats closer to the boat’s edge, such as fast-attack boats.

Torpedo defense for surface ships, however, involves another portion of the threat envelope and is a different question. SSTD is being rapidly developed to address this, Navy officials explained.

The system consists of a Torpedo Warning System Receive Array launched from the winch at the end of the ship, essentially a towed sensor or receiver engineered to detect the presence of incoming torpedo fire. The Receive Array sends information to a processor which then computes key information and sends data to interceptor projectiles — or Countermeasures Anti-Torpedos, or CAT — attached to the side of the ship.

The towed array picks up the acoustic noise.  The processors filter it out and inform the crew. The crew then makes the decision about whether to fire a CAT, a Navy official told

The CATs are mounted on the carriers’ sponson, projections from the side of the ship designed for protection, stability or the mounting of armaments.

The individual technological pieces of the SSTD system are engineered to work together to locate and destroy incoming torpedos in a matter of seconds or less.  Tactical display screens on the bridge of the ship are designed to inform commanders about the system’s operations.

After being tested on some smaller ships such as destroyers, the SSTD was approved for use on aircraft carriers in 2011 by Chief Naval Officer Adm. Jonathan Greenert, according to the Navy.

The SSTD effort is described by Navy officials as a rapid prototyping endeavor designed to fast-track development of the technology. In fact, the Torpedo Warning System recently won a 2013 DoD “Myth-Busters” award for successful acquisition practices such as delivering the TWS to the USS Bush on an accelerated schedule. The TWS is made by 3 Phoenix.

The Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo is being developed by the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior and a former associate editor at

36 Comments on "Navy Deploying New Anti-Torpedo Technology"

  1. Who's torpedos?

  2. I thought we have this technologies long time ago…

  3. I like the idea, just wondering how much is this gonna cost?

  4. The motivation behind this technology? Chinese sub surfacing behind Kitty Hawk and all those quiet electric/diesel subs.

  5. "Torpedo defense for surface ships, however, involves another portion of the threat envelope and is a different question. SSTD is being rapidly developed to address this, Navy officials explained."

    Huh, rapidly. Torpedoes must be an emerging threat that never existed before.

  6. It's about time, for the last 15 years the Navy seems to have forgotten about ASW.
    When I was in, that ALL we talked about was ASW. and that's all we did, of course I was on a ASW frigate-but we don't have any of those anymore.

  7. That definition of sponson comes directly from Wikipedia. Nice journalism.

  8. I recommend a better acronym.

    SSTDs: only sailors have them lol.

  9. That's terrific if it works. I hadn't heard about this before. It could render obsolete a big portion of the submarine spending by potential adversaries. That's critical since so much of the game is economic.

  10. These anti-torpedoes have been in development at Penn State for several years, under various monikers as the program(s) evolved.

    Notice the dimensions mentioned in the article link below:
    "As currently configured, the 200-pound ATT is 6.75 inches in diameter, 105 inches long…"

    Seems perfect armament for the LCS to be used in shallower waters where the smaller SSKs can prowl, waters not deep enough for the safe passage of the bigger nuke SSNs to do the hunting.

    Then again, it's been a long debate about just how deep constitutes "littoral" shallows where the LCS will operate and perform ASW and MCM but larger vessels needing ~deeper~ waters can't…

  11. I have an idea. Why don't we build giant million ton blimps. Then we can figure out how to defend against the swarms of missiles they will attract.

  12. Carriers cannot be protected against real adversaries like China. Don’t waste your money. Carriers are only useful for slapping backwater buffoons like Iran around.

  13. The first time one of the big boys gets sunk we will withdraw from the fight due to public emotions.

  14. Still don't think it do well against Nuclear tipped torpedo's. KABOOM!

  15. China is building a blue water Navy with the ability to fight our capitol ships. Could be in waters near Hawaii. Could be in waters around Alaska. Could be in waters in the WestPac. Given the pace of Chinese ship building the US Navy will face a peer competitor within 10-15 years. Given procurement cycles as long as they are, the US Navy faces some urgency in correctly identifying the Chinese threat.

  16. I guess if you don't do ASW anymore you have to expect a lot of incoming torpedoes.

  17. it is also available on Submarines!

  18. hope it can stop those russian underwater missle torpedoes, does china or iran have these weapons i wonder?

  19. Forget the technology, just put, "Baby Bush", on deck. Just one look at him and the enemy will, literally run out of the water, in fear………………………lol

  20. 2035? Can't have it a little sooner, pretty please? Misprint I hope…

  21. We're testing now, deploying by 2035… that's 22 years from now. And they call this a "fast-track development" program. Doesn't sound like it.

  22. As a former member of the Silent Service I know there are not enough countermeasures that can defeat multiple torpedoes targeting any large ship. I hope we have enough Black projects in production. Some one wise one said "For every measure there is a countermeasure." We need alot more subs and this is not negotiable when it come to a budget.

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  34. Gingerbreadman | October 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Reply

    If I'm not wrong (which I may very well be) the French and Italian navies both have a system like this in development. I'm not sure about when it will be operational (this is all assuming it wasn't cancelled) but I'm certain the date I saw was way before the 2035 they are aiming for for this system. Also the russians already have some limited hard kill capabilities with their depth charge mortars.

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