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Understand how ships protect themselves from enemy torpedoes, using advanced technology and complex strategies to ensure safety on the high seas

Written by Bruno Teles
Published 28/05/2024 às 09:58
Understand how ships protect themselves from enemy torpedoes, using advanced technology and complex strategies to ensure safety on the high seas
Submarine TORPEDO ATTACK Training Photo: Ultimate Military Channel/Disclosure

Modern warships face a variety of threats, with torpedoes being one of the most dangerous. Defending against these attacks involves a combination of advanced technologies and specific tactics.

Since engineer Robert Fulton coined the term “torpedo” in the early 1800s, referring to underwater explosive devices, these weapons have been a significant threat to warships. To combat this threat, navies have developed sophisticated defense systems that include countermeasure sonars and torpedoes.

Currently, ship defense technology evolved to include passive and active sonars, which detect and track enemy torpedoes. These defenses are crucial, especially because many submarines operate at depths that make detection difficult.

History of the torpedo

The story of the torpedo begins with Robert Fulton, who in 1801 sank a small ship in Brest, France, using a 20-pound underwater mine of gunpowder. Since then, torpedoes have become essential weapons for navies around the world.

Modern ships defend themselves from torpedoes using a variety of systems. Passive and active sonars are essential for detecting approaching torpedoes. Passive sonar listens to underwater sounds, while active sonar emits signals that reflect off submerged objects, helping to identify torpedoes. To the future frigates of the Brazilian Navy's Tamandaré class, for example, will be equipped with the Atlas Elektronik AS 713 sonar, capable of monitoring the underwater situation, detecting, classifying and tracking targets.

Ships use countermeasures such as the countermeasure torpedo

When an enemy torpedo is detected, ships employ countermeasures such as the countermeasure torpedo, designed to intercept and destroy enemy torpedoes before they reach the ship. However, these systems are not always 100% effective. Research indicates that countermeasure torpedoes, while destructive, can fail in extreme situations.

Another defensive technique is the use of acoustic masking systems, which emit air bubbles to confuse enemy torpedo sonars. The Nixie system, used to deceive torpedoes, emits sounds similar to those of the ship, diverting attention from enemy sensors.

American MK 54 and MK 50 torpedoes are used in coastal waters

Brazilian Navy ships, although they do not have the AN/SLQ-25 Nixie system, do have other technologies. The American MK 54 and MK 50 torpedoes, for example, are used in coastal and deep waters, respectively, and are designed to destroy enemy torpedoes.

Finally, advanced torpedoes, such as the British surface torpedoes with active sonar, pose a greater challenge. These torpedoes can accurately identify and discriminate ship sounds and can automatically reactivate if fooled, returning to attack again until destroying the target.

Defense of ships against torpedoes involves a complex set of technologies and strategies. Despite advances, the threat from heavy, sophisticated torpedoes remains, and navies continue to invest in research and development to improve their defenses.

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Bruno Teles

I talk about technology, innovation, oil and gas. I update daily about opportunities in the Brazilian market. Agenda suggestion? Send it to brunotelesredator@gmail.com

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