USS Nimitz becomes Fifth US Navy Carrier Armed with Anti-Torpedo Torpedo System
The U.S. Navy has completed arming five of its 10 operational Nimitz-class aircraft carriers with an "anti-torpedo torpedo system" that will "shoot down" submarine launched torpedoes.
The USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is now equipped with the new "Anti-Torpedo Defense System" (ATDS) able to detect, classify, track and destroy incoming enemy torpedoes. The overall system consists of a sensor, a processor and anti-torpedo torpedoes called the "Countermeasures Anti-Torpedo" or CAT, which is a small interceptor missile.
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CAT is a first-of-its-kind "hard kill" countermeasure for carriers and warships designed to defeat torpedoes, especially those fired by deeply submerged submarines.
Apart from ATDS, two Mk38 25 mm light cannons and the Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Services system were added to the defensive systems aboard the Nimitz.
ATDS was deployed aboard the carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) in 2014. It was also deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71); USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). The Navy plans to equip all aircraft carriers and other high-value ships with the system by 2035.
The emergence of a specifically-engineered torpedo defense system is important for the Navy since it comes a time when many weapons developers are concerned about the vulnerability of carriers to sophisticated weapons such as long-range anti-ship missiles and hypersonic weapons.
The ability to protect carriers from submarine-launched torpedo attacks, especially from deadlier wake homing torpedoes, adds an important element to a carrier's layered defense systems. Torpedo defense for surface ships, however, involves another portion of the threat envelope and is a different question.
The complete 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 CAT attached to the side of the ship. The crew then makes the decision about whether to fire a CAT.