One of the greatest potential threats to U.S. Navy surface vessels is sub-launched torpedoes. Accounts abound of World War II-era ships evading torpedo spreads fired from enemy subs, but the speed and advanced homing technologies used in today’s torpedoes mean that success of evasion tactics is much slimmer than in days gone by. Much better is to avoid being targeted in the first place—and that is where Sailors in the Sonar Technician (Surface), or STG, rating come in.

One of the oldest and most reliable pieces of equipment in the STG’s torpedo-countermeasure tool box is the ANL/SLQ-25A NIXIE. The simplest and most widely deployed torpedo countermeasure in the fleet, the NIXIE operates on a simple principle: Make the homing device of a torpedo home in on it rather than on the ship. Towed at a distance behind a vessel, the NIXIE is essentially a high-tech noisemaker; when it receives the sonar “ping” from the homing device on a torpedo that could potentially help the ordnance target the ship, it amplifies it several times and sends it back to the torpedo, luring the weapon away from the ship with its significantly greater sonic “footprint.”

Although the NIXIE system is somewhat dated, its relatively simple design has an important advantage: it does not depend on any type of activation from an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) system. It is, in effect, always on and always working.

Unlike the NIXIE, the Multi-Sensor Torpedo Recognition and Alertment Processor (MSTRAP) is a component of an Anti-Submarine Warfare combat system; when integrated into the AN/SQQ-89 Undersea Warfare Combat System, it is known as the Torpedo Recognition and Alertment Functional Segment (TRAFS). Acting upon data received from hull-mounted and towed radar systems such as the TB-37U Multi-Function Towed Array (MFTA), the MSTRAP is an alertment system that detects incoming torpedoes at tactically significant ranges, giving the ship time to undertake evasive maneuvers in time for them to be effective, particularly when combined with the decoying properties of the NIXIE.


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