From David F. Winkler
Naval Historical Foundation
For the ninth time since the centennial of the U.S. submarine force in 2000, the Naval Submarine League and the Naval Historical Foundation teamed to organize an evening seminar at the U.S. Navy Memorial last April 15th that focused on an aspect of undersea warfare. With the sponsorship of Northrop Grumman Marine Systems, this year’s seminar was entitled: “Ocean Surveillance During the Cold War: Sensing, Fusion, Exploitation.”
What made this annual submarine history seminar uniqueWAS that the three presenters had backgrounds other than the submarine force. Following introductory remarks by Naval Historical Foundation President Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn and former Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Captain William H.J. Manthorpe, Rear Admiral Thomas Brooks provided the audience with an overview of the Ocean Surveillance Information System (OSIS).
A former Director of Naval Intelligence, Brooks depended on multiple sensors to keep track OF Soviet naval forces. He STATED that the need for a systematic approach became apparent in the 1960s as the Soviet Navy transitioned from a coastal defense force to a blue water navy. As the Soviet ability to launch missiles tipped with nuclear warheads from submarines evolved during that decade, the need to detect, process, and disseminate reports to commanders accelerated.
It quickly became apparent that flagships of that time period did not have the capacity to assimilate the data. To support the Sixth Fleet, the Navy established Fleet Oceanographic Surveillance Intelligence Facility Rota in the late 1960s. The Navy later established four other facilities/centers to support other fleet commanders and these five OSIS nodes fed the National Oceanographic Surveillance Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland.