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June 21, 2019

Submarine Technology Symposium Pushes to Expand the Competitive Space from Undersea

Lisa Blodgett welcomes attendees to the Submarine Technology Symposium

Force Projection Sector Head Lisa Blodgett welcomes attendees to the Submarine Technology Symposium, held in the Kossiakoff Center from May 14 to 16.

Credit: APL

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James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, kicks off the symposium with a keynote address.

Credit: APL

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On the symposium’s final day, Vice Adm. (Ret.) Mike Connor moderated a panel discussion featuring, from left, Vice Adm. Chas Richard, Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe Jr., Rear Adm. John Tammen Jr., Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Rear Adm. Scott Pappano and Capt. Pete Small.

Credit: APL

The 31st annual Submarine Technology Symposium leaned into its theme of “Expanding the Competitive Space from Undersea,” focusing on high-impact technologies, design techniques and artificial intelligence capabilities to expand the undersea force.

Sponsored by the Naval Submarine League and organized by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL), STS 2019 took place May 14–16 in the Kossiakoff Center, in Laurel, Maryland. Attendees heard speakers from industry, laboratories, academia, Naval Sea Systems Command and the Navy Submarine Force discuss innovative and critical technologies impacting submarines and undersea systems. Multimedia, static and computer-based exhibits of various topics were on display throughout the three-day event.

The event kicked off with remarks from symposium chairs, APL’s Christopher Ratto and Vice Adm. (Ret.) Michael Connor. APL Force Projection Sector head and STS co-chair Lisa Blodgett welcomed attendees, followed by opening remarks from Vice Adm. (Ret.) Jay Donnelly.

Tuesday’s session began with Ensuring Survivable and Credible Strategic Deterrence, including talks that explored ship, combat system and weapon technology behind nuclear and conventional deterrence. The afternoon session, Enabling New Missions from Under the Sea, focused on taking next-generation warfighting requirements to produce future submarines.

The following day, morning sessions highlighted AI in Undersea Warfare — from smarter autonomous vehicles to the use of deep learning — with the afternoon session centered on Ensuring Continued Undersea Superiority. Speakers addressed the initiatives (ship, system and sailor) involved in sustaining that effort.

The final day included looks at Emerging Undersea Warfare Technologies and how these technologies might influence submarine operations and maintenance.

Daily keynote speakers included James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition; Adm. Frank Caldwell, director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programs; Ron O’Rourke, Congressional Research Service; Rear Adm. Blake Converse, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Vice Adm. Chas Richard, commander, Submarine Forces; Rear Adm. David Goggins, PEO Submarines; Rear Adm. John Tammen Jr., OPNAV N97; Rep. Joseph Courtney, chairman, U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces; and Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe Jr., director, Strategic Systems Programs.

The final day of the symposium featured Richard, Wolfe, Tammen, Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Rear Adm. Scott Pappano and Capt. Pete Small in a panel discussion moderated by Connor.

“Every year, we have this incredible opportunity to convene, hear from Navy leadership and share the innovations shaping the future of the undersea,” said Blodgett. “This is a great forum for military, academic and business communities to come together in a joint effort toward advancing the future of undersea warfare.”

APL launched the symposium 1988 as a classified forum where technologies relevant to capabilities of submarines and related systems could be examined and advanced by various experts. Today, STS continues to be the premier technical conference on submarine-related technologies.

Media contact: Justyna Surowiec, 240-228-8103,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

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