The Return of Undersea Dominance Main Image


Nearly 40 years ago, a group of faculty and administration at the Naval Postgraduate School had the foresight to create a curriculum in undersea warfare. At the time, it was called Operational Systems Technology (Anti-Submarine Warfare), but the 1974 university catalog in which it first appears states the “objective of this unique interdisciplinary curriculum is to enhance operational and command competence, afloat and ashore” in the “subcategory of Anti-Submarine Warfare.”

Remarkably, it is quite similar to the approach in use by the university’s current Undersea Warfare (USW) Academic Group in guiding a select group of students through a “rigorous, interdisciplinary, and technical graduate program with a focus on Navy USW priorities,” as stated in the group’s current mission.

Undersea warfare is a Navy game, and students in the USW curriculum represent a spectrum of relevant Navy officers?...?Surface warriors, aviators and naval flight officers, in addition to submariners, make up each cohort of students. And even international navies have recognized the value of the program, sending their officers to Monterey for advanced degrees.

The USW program is rigorous indeed. Students enrolled in the curriculum do not earn degrees in undersea warfare, rather in conventional programs like physics, math, electrical engineering and others. But that also means students have completed all of the requirements for that degree, in addition to a diverse portfolio of USW-specific courses and Joint Professional Military Education. While challenging, the program has also become widely applauded from USW leadership, from the Pentagon to operational commanders.

Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, SUBGROUP 2 Commander and a 1989 NPS graduate, applauded the campus’ education and research efforts in the USW domain during a visit in August. Vice Adm. John Richardson, Commander, Submarine Forces, as well as Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic and Commander, Allied Submarine Command, offered similar praise for NPS’ strategic value.

But it is the Director of Undersea Warfare in the Pentagon, OPNAV N97, currently held by Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, who keeps the closest watch on the USW program, and has himself marveled at the impact of the program. Of course, Bruner would know, for he is also an NPS alumnus.

More Information ...

In October, NPS’ In Review magazine detailed the university’s comprehensive Undersea Warfare program and its role in maintaining the U.S. advantage in the underwater domain. view issue

May’s episode of Inside NPS details the university’s acquisition of two wave gliders unmanned surface vehicles, and their potential for use in student research. view episode

 Then Commander of Submarine Group 2, Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge returned to his alma mater to talk USW with current NPS students and faculty.

Then Commander of Submarine Group 2, Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge returned to his alma mater to talk USW with current NPS students and faculty. view story