The Soviets at Sea
"Within weeks many of you will be looking across just hundreds of feet of water at some of the most modern technology ever invented in America. Unfortunately, it is on Soviet ships."
Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, May 25, 1983, to graduating class at Annapolis (reported in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, August 1983, pp. 73-4)
Only one Soviet battleship was built before World War II the Tretii International ("Third International"), laid down on July 15, 1939 in the Leningrad yards. The guns, turrets, armor, and boilers for this 35,000 ton battleship were purchased in the United States and Germany. The ship was completed in the late 1940s. Other prewar Soviet battleships the Marat, Kommuna, and Oktyabrskyaya Revolutsla were reconditioned and refitted ex-tsarist vessels. Attempts to build three battleships of the Italian Vittorio Veneto class were abandoned.
Three aircraft carriers were under construction at the end of the 1930s. The Stalin (formerly the tsarist Admiral Kornilov), a 9,000-ton ship built in 1914, redesigned in 1929, and completed in 1939 as an aircraft carrier. Two other carriers of 12,000 tons each were built "on the basis of American blueprints" the Krasnoye Znamye and the Voroshilov, laid down at Leningrad in 1939 and 1940.
World War II Soviet cruisers were refitted tsarist-era vessels, including the Krasni Kavkaz (formerly the Admiral Lazarov, built in 1916 at Kinoleav), the Profintern (formerly the Svetlana, built in 1915 at Reval [now Tallinn] and refitted in 1937), and the Chevonagy Ukraina (formerly the Admiral Nakhimov, built in 1915). The first Soviet attempt at cruiser construction was the Kirov class of 8,000 tons. Three ships were laid down in 1934-35 with Tosi engines manufactured in Italy and built to Italian plans at Putilovets (the Kirov and Maxim Gorki) and at Nikoleav (the Kulbyshev) under the technical direction of Sansaldo, an Italian firm.
There were three groups of Soviet destroyers before World War II. First, fourteen tsarist vessels four in the Petrovski class (built in 1917-18), nine in the Uritski class (built in 1914-15), and one ex-Novik (built in 1911). Second, some new classes of destroyers were built under the Soviets to French and Italian designs. Between 1935 and 1939, fifteen destroyers of 2,900 tons each, based on French drawings, were built as the Leningrad class: six in the Leningrad yards, eight on the Black Sea, and one at Vladivostok. The first units, supervised by French engineers, were similar to French vessels.
The third category encompassed the Stemitelnie class, the largest Soviet destroyer class of the 1930s. Between 1936 and 1939, thirty-five of these 1,800-ton ships were built under Italian supervision, mainly in Leningrad and the Black Sea yards, utilizing an Italian Odero-Terni-Orlando design and British machinery. Their engines were Tosi (Italy) 50,000-shaft-horsepower geared turbines. In addition, the Tashkent, another Odero-Terni-Orlando design, was built in Italy the only Soviet surface warship built abroad in the 1930s.
In January 1939 the American firm of Gibbs and Cox, naval architects, designed two destroyers and a 45,000-ton battleship for the Soviet Union in the United States.
From 1939 to 1941 the Soviets received German military assistance. The Nazis sent the partly finished cruiser Lutzow, laid down at Bremen in 1937, and in May 1941 "construction of the cruiser 'L' in Leningrad was proceeding according to plan." In the Leningrad yards German technicians took over construction and repair of Soviet ships. This cooperation lasted for eighteen months, from late 1939 until May 1941.
All told, in 1941 the Soviet fleet comprised 3 battleships, 8 cruisers, 85 destroyers and torpedo boats, 24 minelayers, 75 minesweepers, 300 motor torpedo boats and gunboats, and 250 submarines. Most were built in the West or to Western designs.
U.S. Lend-Lease added 491 ships to this total: 46 110-foot submarine chasers and 59 65-foot submarine chasers, 221 torpedo boats (24 of them from the United Kingdom), 77 minesweepers, 28 frigates, 52 small landing craft, 2 large landing craft from the United Kingdom, and 6 cargo barges. In addition to combat vessels, Lend-Lease transferred merchant ships and marine engines.
In terms of tonnage, Lend-Lease probably doubled the size of the Soviet Navy. Only a small number of these naval ships have been returned, although the Lend-Lease master agreement required the return of all vessels.
Since World War II, assistance to the Soviet naval construction program has taken two forms: export of shipbuilding equipment and shipyard cranes from European countries and the United States, and use of plans and designs obtained from the United States and NATO through espionage. For example, the sophisticated equipment of the U.S.S. Pueblo, transferred by the North Koreans to the USSR, was at least fifteen years ahead of anything the Soviets had in the late 1960s. In other words, the Pueblo capture took the Soviets in one leap from postwar German and Lend-Lease technical developments to the most modern of U.S. technology.
Current Soviet acquisitions of naval equipment are highly significant and evidence of failure by the West to maintain a realistic defense posture.
The Soviets have concentrated their acquisitions in areas related to aircraft carriers, deep sea diving capabilities, sensor systems for antisub-marine warfare and navigation, and ship maintenance facilities. In the maintenance area, two huge floating drydocks purchased from Japan, supposedly for civilian use, have been diverted to military use. Drydocks are critical for both routine and fast repair of ships damaged in warfare. In 1978, when the Soviets took possession of one of the drydocks, they diverted it to the Pacific Naval Fleet. The other was sent to the Northern Fleet in 1981.
These drydocks are so large that they can carry several naval ships. More importantly, they are the only drydock facilities in either of the two major Soviet fleet areas Northern or Pacific capable of servicing the new Kiev-class V/STOL aircraft carriers. Soviet advanced submarines carrying ballistic missiles, Soviet Kiev aircraft carriers, and Soviet destroyers were among the first ships repaired in these drydocks. The drydocks are so large that no Soviet shipyard is capable of accommodating their construction without major facility modifications, associate capital expenditures, and interruption of present weapons programs. Their importance will be even more pronounced when the Soviets construct the still larger carriers (for high-performance aircraft) projected for the 1990s. The Soviets have acquired Western aircraft carrier catapult equipment and documentation for this larger carrier; catapult technology, though relatively common in the West, is outside Soviet experience and capabilities.
In the 1980s, the USSR has contracted for or purchased foreign-built oceanographic survey ships equipped with some of the most modern Western-manufactured equipment. In place of U.S. equipment that was embargoed, other Western equipment has been installed on the ships. This modernization of the world's largest oceanographic fleet with Western technology will support the development of Soviet weapon systems programs and antisubmarine systems used against the West.
Ship and submarine construction requires sheet steel, steel plate, and steel sections. Armor-plate is produced by rolling high-alloy steel, which is then heat-treated to develop its ballistic properties. Multiple layers are used for armor protection. Therefore, assistance to the Soviet iron and steel industry which is significant and continuing is also assistance to Soviet ship-construction programs.
A U.S. government agency report has asserted that "any shipyard capable of building a merchant ship hull is equally capable of building a combatant ship of the same length." The report also states that merchant ships can be designed for conversion into naval ships, and that in any event the facilities required to build a steel merchant ship are exactly the same as the facilities required to build a steel warship. The main differences are the armament and the varying specifications for engines and other equipment. Almost 70 percent of the present Soviet merchant fleet has been built outside the Soviet Union. This has released Soviet shipyards and materials for Soviet naval construction. All diesel engines in Soviet ships use a technology originating outside the Soviet Union.
The Soviets provided 80 percent of the supplies for the North during the war in Vietnam. Most of these supplies were transported by merchant ship. The ocean-going capacity required to supply the North Vietnamese on this scale and so keep them in the war was dependent upon ships previously built outside the USSR. The same process can be identified in Central America and Africa. While the supply of maritime technology has been formally forbidden by Congress, grossly inefficient administration of the export control laws has allowed the Soviets to acquire a massive military transportation capacity.
Origins of the Soviet Merchant Marine
There are two extraordinary facts about the gigantic strategic Soviet merchant marine:
First: over two-thirds of its ship tonnage has been built outside the Soviet Union. The remaining one-third was built in Soviet yards and to a great extent with shipbuilding equipment from the West, particularly Finland and NATO allies, Great Britain and Germany.
Second: four-fifths of the main marine diesel engines used to propel the vessels of the Soviet merchant marine were actually built in the West. In other words, only one-fifth of the main diesel engines were built in the USSR. Moreover, even this startling statistic does not reflect the full nature of Soviet dependence on foreign marine diesel technology because all of the main engines manufactured in the USSR are built to foreign designs. The full scope of the dependence of Soviet marine-diesel technology on foreign assistance is shown in Table 8-1.
The manufacture of marine diesels in the Soviet Union has received considerable foreign technical assistance. Technical-assistance agreements were made with both M.A.N. and Sulzer in the 1920s, and the Soviet Union has continued since that time to receive M.A.N. (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg) and Sulzer technology, in addition to assistance agreements with Burmeister & Wain of Denmark and Skoda of Czechoslovakia.
An important basic agreement was signed in early 1959 in Copenhagen by Niels Munck, managing director of Burmeister & Wain. The Danish company also has a licensing agreement with the Polish engine manufacturers Stocznia Gdanska, and most of that organization's annual production of B & W designs goes to the Soviet Union.
All modern large diesels of more than 11,000 horsepower used in the Soviet Union are built to a single foreign design Burmeister & Wain of Copenhagen, Denmark. Denmark is a NATO ally of the United States. The export of this Danish technology could have been stopped by the State Department under the Battle Act and CoCom arrangement. All Burmeister & Wain diesels are designed with U.S. computers. Burmeister & Wain engines propelled the Soviet ships that were active in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the supply of North Vietnam and Central America today.
The State Department could also have intervened indirectly to restrict export of military technology by Eastern European Communist governments for example, Skoda armaments to the USSR and this was the very claim made by State to Congress in order to bring detente. In 1966 Dean Rusk submitted legislation to Congress for "most favored nation" treatment for East European Communist countries. This would, said Dean Rusk, "give the United States an important political tool in Eastern Europe." But East European Communist countries went right on providing technical assistance for the Soviets, and the State Department maintained a steadfast blind eye to the military end-uses of this technical assistance to the Soviet Union. Indeed, State even approved an important technical-assistance agreement made by Simmons, an American firm, with Skoda.
Origin of Diesel Engines of Soviet Merchant Ships
Size of Merchant
Engines of Foreign
15,000 and over
*This includes diesel-electric units but not steam turbines. The chart is based on gross registered tonnage, not rated capacity of the engines, therefore it is an approximate measure only.
Illegal Actions by State Department
When we look closely at the transportation technology used to support the most dangerous international crises of the 60s, 70s and 80s, we find that the U.S. State Department not only had the knowledge and the capability to stop the technological transfers which generated the vehicles used, but was required by law to ensure that the technology was not passed to the Soviets. In other words, there would have been no Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, no supply of the Vietnamese War and no wars of liberation in Africa and Central America if State Department had followed Congressional instructions and carried out the job it is paid to do.
The Poltava class of Soviet merchant vessels, equipped with special hatches, was used to carry missiles to Cuba in 1962, it was used to supply the Vietnamese War, it is used today to support "wars of liberation" in Africa and Central America. The main engines for the first two vessels in this class were manufactured by Burmeister & Wain in Copenhagen. Engines for the other ships in the class came from the Bryansk plant in the Soviet Union. The Danish and the Bryansk engines are built to the same specification: 740-millimeter cylinder diameter and 1,600-millimeter piston stroke. The Danish engines have six cylinders while the Soviet engines have seven cylinders; in all other respects they are identical Burmeister & Wain-design engines. In 1959 the Danish company made a technical-assistance agreement with the Soviets for manufacture of large marine diesels, not manufactured in the USSR at that time, and the U.S. State Department, through CoCom, approved the export of this technology as nonstrategic. Any member of CoCom has veto power. Objection by State Department representatives would have effectively blocked the agreement.
The Poltava-class ships were used to carry Soviet missiles to Cuba in 1962. The first Poltava engines were manufactured in Denmark in 1959 and the ships entered service in 1962, only a few months before they were used to transport missiles to Cuba. In other words, the first operational use of these diesel engines approved by State as nonstrategic was in a challenge to the United States which brought us to the brink of nuclear war.
The Poitava-class ships have extra long hatches: eight of 13.6 meters length and 6.2 meters width, ideal for loading medium-range missiles. After near nuclear conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union the Soviets removed their missiles as deck cargo on other merchant ships. The Labinsk was one of the ships used. The Labinsk is a 9,820-ton freighter built in 1960 in Poland on Soviet account and has Italian engines, made by Fiat in Italy (8,000 bhp, eight cylinders, 750-mm. cylinder diameter, 1,3200-mm. piston stroke). This is the same Fiat Company that later in the 60s and 70s provided technical assistance for the largest automobile plant in the USSR.
In 1967, while the Johnson Administration was campaigning for yet more "peaceful trade" with the Soviet Union, Soviet ships previously supplied by our allies as "peaceful trade" were carrying weapons to Haiphong to kill Americans (see Table 8-2).
In addition to the ships listed in Table 8-2, the Kuibyshev, a 6,000-ton freighter built in the United States, the Sovetsk, built in Poland with Swiss engines, and the Ustilug, a 4,400-ton freighter with West German M.A.N. engines, have also been identified.
As Table 8-3 shows, if the State Department had done an effective job according to the laws passed by Congress, thirty-seven of the ninety-six ships would not have been in Soviet hands and would not have been able to take weapons and supplies to Haiphong.
Analysis of some Soviet Ships used on Haiphong Run
Name and GRT
Place of Construction Engines Hill M26121 1960 Kura
M25151 1962 Simferopol
Poland Switzerland M11647 1936 Arlika
M17082 1962 Sinegorsk
Finland Sweden M3017 1961 Ingur
M26893 1952 Inman
Specifically, the State Department could have stopped the export of marine-diesel technology to the Soviets under the Battle Act.
Could the Soviets have used other ships? Turn to the next page.
Over two-thirds of Soviet merchant ships and more than four-fifths of the marine diesels in Soviet merchant ships were not built in the USSR. The Soviets would certainly not have attempted foreign adventures with a merchant marine substantially smaller than the one they have now in operation. In other words, we always had the absolute means to stop the Soviet tide of aggression if that was our objective.
The provision of fast, large ships for Soviet supply of the North Vietnamese indicates where export control failed.
Engines of Soviet Ships on Haiphong Run and Ability of
United States to Stop Export under Battle Act and CoCom
Manufactured in USSR
to Soviet Design
Manufactured in USSR
under license and
to foreign design:
Skoda (at Russky Diesel) 5 No Burmeister & Wain
8 YES Manufactured outside
USSR to foreign design:
8 Skoda (Czechoslovakia) 5 No M.A.N. (West Germany) 11 11 Yes Fiat S.A. (Italy) 2 2 Yes Burmeister & Wain (in
Denmark and elsewhere
8 8 Yes Sulzer (Switzerland) 13 No Lang (Hungry) 4 No Gorlitz (East Germany) 10 No United States (Lend-Lease) 7 7₯ Yes(?) United States (not
1 No Krupp (Germany) 1 1 Yes Total: Diesel engines 13 62 37 Yes ₯Lend-Lease should be returned under the Master agreement.
Manufactured in USSR to
0 Manufactured in USSR to
Canada 1 United States 3 United Kingdom 1 Switzerland (Sulzer) 3 Total: Steam turbines 1 8 Grand Total:
Diesel engines 75
Not identified 12
Segments of the Soviet merchant marine were examined to determine the relationship between Western origins and the maximum speed of Soviet ships. It was anticipated that because of NATO limitations on the speed of merchant ships supplied to the USSR (reflected in the export control laws) that the average speed of NATO-supplied ships would be considerably less than ships supplied either by Eastern European countries to the USSR or built within the USSR itself. The results of an analysis of forty-two Soviet ships on the Haiphong supply are as follows:
Merchant ships with engines manufactured in the Free World, average speed 14.62 knots.
Merchant ships with engines manufactured in Eastern Europe, average speed 13.25 knots.
Merchant ships with engines manufactured in Soviet Union, average speed 12.23 knots.
(All forty-two ships were built after I951, the year the Battle Act was implemented.)
The most obvious point to be made is that the average speed of Western-supplied ships used by the Soviets on the Haiphong run was 2.4 knots (i.e., about 20 percent) above that of Soviet domestic-built ships on the run. This includes only those ships built after 1951 (i.e., after implementation of the Battle Act and its limitation of speed and tonnage on ships supplied to the USSR).
The illegal administration of the Battle Act by State Department also applies to weight limitations the faster, larger Soviet ships are from the West and the slower, smaller ships are from domestic Soviet shipyards.
Under the CoCom machinery each nation participating in the embargo of strategic materials submits its own views on the shipment of specific items. There is also a unanimity rule. In other words, no item may be shipped to the USSR unless all participating nations agree. Objections by any nation halt shipment. Douglas Dillon, former Under Secretary of State, has pointed out, "I can recall no instance in which a country shipped a strategic item to the Soviet bloc against the disapproving vote of a participating member of CoCom."
It must therefore be presumed that the United States delegates approved the export of ships of high average speed, as well as marine diesel engines and the Burmeister &'Wain technical-assistance agreement of 1959 for Soviet manufacturers of marine diesels, all of which were later used against the United States by the Soviets in supplying North Vietnam, and adventures in Africa and Central America.
It is clear from this evidence alone that successive administrations have been long on words but short on action to stop the Soviets from carrying out world ambitions. Further, successive administrations have committed American soldiers to foreign wars without the resolve to win and obviously in the knowledge that American technical assistance was being provided to both sides in these wars.
Under CoCom arrangements in the Battle Act, the State Department can enter an objection to CoCom concerning any technological exports to the Soviet Union. No CoCom member can make such exports over the objection of any other member of CoCom. In other words, if the State Department had wanted to implement the intent of Congress, it had the ability to stop the transfer of marine engines and marine engine technology to the USSR. It did not do so.
Even further, other Soviet ships have marine diesels originating in Czechoslovakia (Skoda), Hungary (Lang), and East Germany (Gorlitzer), countries for which State has demanded most favored nation status and trade as a "political weapon." If there is indeed a polycentralist trend, then why was the State Department unable to stop · the flow of military technology to the Soviet Union? It had the political weapon (trade) it asked for to do the job.
In brief: State Department had the means to stop the transfer of marine-diesel technology. The department was required to do so under the law. It did not do so. The blame in this tragic case is squarely at the door of the State Department.
We can derive two conclusions:
1. The Soviet Union could not have supplied wars of liberation without assistance from the United States and its Western allies. This assistance takes the form of technology transferred through the vehicle of trade.
2. The State Department had the absolute means to stop this transfer through its veto power in CoCom. It did not do so.
The position is more serious than even these conclusions would suggest, because the State Department has excellent and expensive intelligence facilities. The department was therefore aware of item (1) above. It is also aware of its powers in CoCom. Yet a departmental spokesman went before Congress to make the following statement:
If there were no trade at all between West and East, the Soviet Union would still be perfectly competent to supply North Vietnam with its requirements, many times over. I think the proposition that our restrictions or any restrictions on trade with Eastern Europe can defer or affect in any significant way the ability to supply North Vietnam is simply wrong.
This bland assertion, without evidence, of course, was made to the Senate by Philip H. Trezise, former Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs in the department. Trezise has been described by Senator Mon-dale as "one of the most remarkable men that this Committee could hear from." That is certainly an accurate statement. Unfortunately, Trezise has all the qualities of a deaf mute blindman.
The Deaf Mute Blindmen Forge Ahead
These facts and conclusions were evident by the early 1970s: the Soviets were using Western transportation technology against the West.
Yet in 1973 the State Department under President Nixon and National Security adviser Henry Kissinger negotiated a major agreement to transfer even more transportation technology to the Soviet Union. This agreement was signed by President Nixon on June 19, 1973 and went far beyond maritime technology. The maritime component was as follows:
"Marine transport, including technology of maritime shipping and cargo handling in seaports."
This is, of course, the precise technology to supply for assisting Soviet wars of liberation.
We reproduce two pages from this extraordinary agreement (Russian and English versions) to demonstrate the all-encompassing nature of the Nixon Administration's aid to the Soviet Union even when the results of earlier aid were known in Washington. When this "aid and comfort" is considered in the light of suppression of the facts, coupled with harassment of individuals attempting to bring these facts home to the American public, there is clearly a case for in-depth investigation of the motivation of top officials in the Nixon Administration, up to and including Mr. Nixon himself.
Submarine and Anti-Submarine Warfare
There is a long history of Western assistance to Soviet submarine construction and anti-submarine warfare efforts.
Extensive tsarist submarine work was adapted by the Soviets at the end of the 1920s and a few tsarist-model submarines were still operating in World War II.
Soviet domestic construction began in 1928 with the L and M classes. The L-class was based on the British L-55, which sank off Kronstadt and was raised by the Soviets; twenty-three of the L-class and one L-Special were built to this model by 1938. The M-class, a small 200-ton coastal submarine of limited performance, was made possible only by the introduction of electric welding under the terms of a General Electric technical-assistance contract.
All subsequent Soviet submarine development has been heavily influenced by German U-boat designs and more recently by U.S. designs. In 1926 a German naval mission under Admiral Spindler visited the USSR and provided the plans of the most successful German submarines, details of operational experience, and the services of German submarine experts. The Russians obtained sets of U-boat plans, the most important of which were those of the B-III type, one of the most successful designs for a conventional submarine ever produced. As the type-VII, the B-Ill was the backbone of the German U-boat fleet in World War II.
A variant of the design was built in Russia first known as the N-class nicknamed Nemka ("German girl") and later as the S-class. The Chuka-class was based on German B-III plans; S-class (enlarged Chuka) is the German type VII U-boat.
Italian influence came in two submarine classes. Eight vessels in the Garibaldi-class were of Adriatico design and seventeen Pravda-class submarines were a development from the Garibaldi. Two submarines were bought from Vickers-Armstrong in the United Kingdom in 1936, and the Soviet V-class comprised Vickers-Armstrong submarines built in the United Kingdom in 1944 and transferred to the USSR under Lend-Lease.
The United States sold submarine equipment to the Soviet Union in the first five or six years of the 1930s. A proposal was received by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut, in January 1930 for the construction of submarines and submarine ordnance equipment for shipment to the USSR. In a letter to the Secretary of State, Electric Boat argued that there was "no objection" to the construction of submarines for such "friendly foreign powers," and further said that this was in the interest of the Navy, as it kept domestic shipbuilders at work. The State Department, though admitting there was no legal restriction on shipments of munitions to the Soviet Union, said it viewed "with disfavor" the construction of periscopes, submarines, and ordnance equipment for shipment to the Russians.
Sample Page From Transportation Agreement Signed by President Nixon with the Soviet Union June 19, 1973 [English Version]
There was also a flow of American technology under the Sperry Gyroscope technical-assistance contract for marine instruments, and many Soviet engineers were trained by the company in the United States, although attempts in 1937-38 to buy fire-control equipment were thwarted by Navy Department officers. By 1937 Electric Boat was negotiating with the Soviets for construction of submarines, this time with the blessing of the State Department.
The massive postwar expansion of the Soviet submarine fleet has depended upon the designs and technical and construction resources of Germany and the United States. After World War II the Soviets carefully studied German submarines and operational techniques. Using equipment and material received under Lend-Lease, and transferring complete shipyards and great quantities of submarine-building equipment from Germany, a large submarine construction program was undertaken a program still in progress in 1986.
In 1972 the Soviet W-class attack submarine accounted for about half of the Soviet submarine fleet. The W-class is a direct copy of the successful German type-XXI U-boat. The vessel has a 1,621-ton displacement and is capable of traveling 11,000 miles without refueling. Although the Germans built 120 type-XXI boats by early 1945, few went to sea. Almost all of these completed submarines fell into Soviet hands. Thus a substantial portion, perhaps one-quarter, of the Soviet submarine force was built in Germany to German construction standards. A modification of type-XXI became the Soviet Z-class, slightly larger, with greater range. The most modern Soviet diesel-powered submarine, the F-class, was also developed from these advanced German designs.
Early Soviet nuclear-powered submarines are similar to the U.S.S. Nautilus in configuration. The Soviet Y ("Yankee")-class is copied from the U.S.S. Polaris ballistic missile submarine, with plans obtained through the massive Soviet espionage program in Great Britain.
Submersibles for deep-sea work have been purchased in the West, the most recent sale being the Hyco Pisces-IV sold in 1972. Missile-carrying submarines are fitted with GOLEM-class missiles. GOLEM I and GOLEM II are direct descendents of the German V-2, while GOLEM III is a two-stage solid-fuel equivalent of the Lockheed Polaris.
In anti-submarine warfare an obvious priority for the Soviets we find repeated efforts to obtain Western advanced anti-submarine technology, especially sensor technology, focusing on signal processing. This highlights the calculated planned nature of Soviet technology acquisition and the weak Western response.
Soviet military technology acquisition is focused upon 14 key technology clusters. These target groups are of fundamental importance to development of weapons systems. By concentrating on these fourteen groups, the Soviets try to acquire the broadest possible military advantages while simultaneously improving their own shortcomings.
One of these 14 groups includes sensor technology, comprising radar devices, array processors, infrared technology and signal processing. An example from one of these groups illustrates activity by U.S. firms which approaches treason.
Array processors assist a computer in processing and analyzing digital signals. This can be used to identify minute differences in sounds under the ocean, a means of locating enemy submarines. Obviously, if the Soviets have this technology, they can track U.S. Navy submarines.
In 1979 Geo Space Corporation of Houston, Texas sold 36 array processors to the Soviet Union. Soviet Navy personnel were trained in the Geo Space plant in Houston. Soviet personnel carried the Geo Space units aboard Soviet submarines and installed the units with the shipboard computers. This activity surely fits the definition of "aid and comfort" to enemies of the U.S. Yet Department of Commerce merely fined Geo Space $36,000 and suspended its export privileges.
When we compare the activity of Departments of State and Commerce in administering the Export Control and Battle Act laws we find extreme weakness, amounting in many cases to ignoring the will of Congress in favor of the Soviets.
Yet we also find another phenomenon, explored below.
The Soviet Union as a Source of Information
In practice the Soviet Union is a more prolific source of hard information on some technology transfers information that can be blended with declassified U.S. files, and Congressional reports.
The availability of data on the origin of the main engines of Soviet ships used on the Haiphong supply run and in the Cuban Missile Crisis is a prime example of the Soviet Union publishing detailed information not available from U.S. government sources and directly conflicting with official statements made by U.S. government officials.
This case of the origin of Soviet vessels, for which ample and accurate hard data are available, is worth exploring. For most of the period since 1949, the Battle Act and the Export Control Act have supposedly prohibited the export of transportation technology for military purposes.
However, the specific case-by-case determinations made by State, Commerce, and CoCom within the framework of these laws are classified. It is not possible to obtain free access to the relevant decision papers to examine the manner in which the intent of Congress has been administered. We do know, however, that any member of the CoCom (Coordinating Committee, the operating arm of the Consultative Group established by NATO and Japan in 1950 to coordinate the export controls of the major industrial nations) group of nations has veto power and that no shipment has ever been made to the Soviet Union without the unanimous approval of all members. Thus, the transfer of Danish marine technology in 1959 had implicit or explicit U.S. State Department approval.
Some years ago research strongly suggested that the Soviets had no indigenous military transport technology: neither motor vehicles nor marine diesel engines. Yet about 80 percent of the weapons and supplies for the North Vietnamese were transported by some means from the Soviet Union. The greater part of these Soviet weapons went to Vietnam by Soviet freighter and then along the Ho Chi Minh trail on Soviet-built trucks.
By using data of Russian origin it is possible to make an accurate analysis of the origins of this equipment. It was found that all the main diesel and steam-turbine propulsion systems of the ninety-six Soviet ships on the Haiphong supply run that could be identified (i.e., eighty-four out of the ninety-six) originated in design or construction outside the USSR. We can conclude, therefore, that if the State and Commerce Departments, in the 1950s and 1960s, had consistently enforced the legislation passed by Congress in 1949, the Soviets would not have had the ability to supply the Vietnamese War and 50,000 more Americans and countless Vietnamese would be alive today. The names of the ninety-six Soviet ships used on the Haiphong run were gleaned from Morskoi Flot and similar Russian maritime publications. The specifications of the main engines were obtained from Registrovaya Kniga Morskikh Sudov Soyuza SSR and other Russian sources. This hard information came from censored Soviet sources. The same information is only available in the West in classified government files; and it is therefore totally censored to the independent researcher and to Congress.
This is the paradox. The U.S. government is concealing, possibly unknowingly, actions which are aiding the Soviets, and which originate within U.S. government offices.