Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dangerous Waters - To Kill a Kilo - Part I

This gem of a naval sim is old like dirt but still amazing. It was my friend Asid  -Dogs of War's head honcho- who reminded me about it and this thing stuck to me like a tick.

Please join me into this fight against two Iranian Kilo class submarines. This is a tough battle against very silent enemies in shallow and noisy waters.

The ship control panel of my Los Angeles III class submarine. After receiving my orders through the radio antenna mast, I move using sprint and drift towards the Strait of Hormuz. The flank speed is risky, but I need to get my sub in the area of operations, there is a tanker under attack by Iranian diesel submarines.

The navigation panel. My orders included an approximate position for the tanker, which I plotted and set a waypoint towards. The circle represents a 15 nm radius from that location, when we arrive at that point I'm going to drop my speed to 5 knots to minimize the risk of detection and to get my sonars into a speed at which they work.

Waypoints are editable, so you can adjust speed and depth with ease.

At 15 nm from the last known position of the tanker, I reduce my speed to 4 knots and I deploy my starboard towed sonar array. Start trying to pick a contact.
I'm streaming my starboard towed array. This towed array has a very long cable which can cause the array to hit the sea floor of shallow waters like the ones I'm transiting. The solution is to stream the towed array to approximately half of its length and don't drop the speed below 4 knots. 
The sonar output from the sphere array located in the bow of the submarine. The top and bottom panel represent noise levels at different bearings. Note the bottom panel how it is still showing the high noise of my ownship moving at high speed before starting searching. 

The starboard towed array output. The top display is showing the short term noise signal across the different bearings. Note the black bar, that's the hull of the submarine which I believe it is shielded from the sensitive hydrophones of the  towed array.
The narrowband display. This allows the sonar operator to move a cursor towards a specific bearing in the hopes of picking up the tonals/specific sound frequencies from ships, submarines and torpedoes. The very bottom panel shows the sound levels across all bearings. Note how high is the background noise ...

The broadband display of the starboard towed array. I overstayed the outer fringes of the area of engagement, too optimistic that the sonar would pick at least the sounds of the tanker. Unfortunately, the overall ambient sound and the low speed of the limping tanker didn't help to locate it.

Desperate to get a bearing on the oil tanker, I order my submarine to periscope depth and with much alarm I see the poor vessel smoking. All of the sudden, I also get a contact with the towed array (Sierra 2, S02 very likely the same tanker).

The target motion analysis station (TMA) reports a course of 137 degrees at 7 knots. Range is 19k yards. The estimate is poor (just two data points) and I decide to keep the periscope up for more data.

Just one minute later, the tanker is hit with a torpedo as I watch from my periscope.

A second torpedo hits the tanker. The sea becomes even more noisy (note the top broadband display's signal showing more noise from all directions). I had to fight the urge to charge at full speed to pick the Iranian Kilos, protected from detection by the increase in background noise, but I didn't want to risk my crew to a bet over a cloak of  a handful of decibels.

I stay, creeping. The grey marker is the estimated position of the explosion, S01 is the old contact for the oil tanker.
With the benefit of knowing the rough location of at least one of the Iranian Kilos (west of the explosion), I search intently on the general area until I get these tonals at a bearing of 320 degrees. The classification computer is a bit confused about this contact, identifying it as a torpedo.
But then, moving the cursor slightly out of the original bearing I get a classification as a Kilo class.
I classify it as hostile. Now the challenge is to nail its range and speed.
To complicate matters, contact S03 drops in and out of my sonar's narrowband. A new contact, S04 gets all my attention right now. I classify it as an Iranian Kilo class. 
I decide that I can't be that lucky as of getting two Kilos deployed so close to each other, I drop contact S03.

Determining the precise range to S04 was an impossible task. Manually, or using the autocrew didn't get a sensible solution. The background noise is too high and the Kilo too silent to pick his blades to determine its speed. The Iranian Kilo must be changing its course or something according to the TMA. I grow anxious that a sudden change in course of the Kilo may leave me with its least noise aspect.

It's time to shoot at the Kilo, even with a lousy solution, one ADCAP (advanced capabilities MK48 torpedo) may nail it. I retrieve the the towed array (never good to fight in a tangle of cable) and rig the ship for flank speed. I know that once I fire my first torpedo, my position may likely be revealed to the enemy, so I will get out of this place and race to the tanker (if it's still afloat). Utterly ignored until now the sphere array is the only sonar available to me and it is showing a solid contact at a bearing of 332 degrees. The sphere array has a distinctive capability at catching high frequency sounds, which travel not as far as the low frequency ones. The Kilo must be close. Torpedo launched at 0632. Note the upper panel's thick line (that's my torpedo) and how the background noise increases as I speed up.

And then I launch a second torpedo at S04. This is how it looks from the narrowband sphere array.
Some minutes later, a loud explosion (grey marker) is heard in the general direction of S04 (which is still in my chart as an old contact with an estimate of its position). My first torpedo must have hit the Iranian Kilo. I'm moving out of my original position, briefly cycling between flank and full speed, finally slowing to 5 knots to see what's around me (the noise of navigating at high speed blinds the sonars).

I reload tubes 1 and 2. and make sure that my countermeasures are ready. There is still a second Iranian Kilo out there and I have to find it.

Shockingly, a get hit by a ping from the direction of the previous explosion. What? The Iranian sub survived that hit? Launch countermeasures, flank speed ahead!

Stay tuned more is coming.

EDIT: This game was played using the Reinforce Alert mod.Worth picking it up.



Johan said...

Have you checked out Cold Waters? Link here

It might seem quite arcadish at first, since it is a third person game, but it is actually a quite deep simulation, when you get into it. The sonar modelling, for instance, is really good.

SacaSoh said...

I'm waiting for the author to play Cold Waters to decide if it's worth my time lol. I wish cold waters was more of a "CMANO with graphics" or a "DW with pretty graphics".

I'm not convinced it is a "quite deep sim" like Johan says, but I guess mods (or even patches/DLCs) eventually will turn it in a thing less arcadey.