Karl Doenitz used the term Rudel, meaning "pack" or other group of animals, to describe his strategy of submarine warfare. The pack is specified to be "wolves" only in English.
U-boat movements were controlled by the Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote much more closely than American submarines, which were given tremendous independence once on patrol. Accordingly, U-boats usually patrolled separately, only being ordered to congregate after one located a convoy and alerted BdU, so a Rudel consisted of as many U-boats as could reach the scene of the attack. American wolf packs, on the other hand, usually comprised three boats that patrolled in close company, organized before they left port under the command of the senior captain of the three.
Wolf packs fell out of use during the Cold War; nuclear submarines are so much more maneuverable and destructive than their World War II ancestors that there is no need for them to hunt in packs. Instead, the United States Navy deploys its attack submarines on individual patrols, with the exception of one or (rarely) two attack submarines in each carrier group. American ballistic missile submarines have always operated alone. (Soviet ballistic missile submarines operated in well-protected bastions.) However, with the opening shots of the 2003 invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the term "wolf pack" was brought back into use to describe the fleet of American and British nuclear submarines which operated together in the Red Sea to fire tomahawk missiles at Iraq. USS Providence (SSN-719) was the first boat to fire its entire load of missiles and earn the nickname "Big Dog of the Red Sea Wolf Pack."
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Submarines in a neutral buoyancy condition are not intrinsically stable in trim.
Military submarines are generally divided into attack submarines, designed to operate against enemy ships, including other submarines, in a hunter-killer role, or strategic ballistic-missile submarines, designed to launch attacks on land-based targets from a position of stealth, also known as "boomers" in the United States Navy or "bombers" in the Royal Navy.
Submarines designed for the purpose of attacking merchant ships or other warships are known as "fast attacks", "hunter-killers", "fast boats", or "fleet submarines" (which terms are not synonyms; each is a different design for a different mission).
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