19 March 2019

In Loving Memory: A Tribute to CMSI Founding Supporter Kyrill Korolenko

Kyrill “Ky” Korolekno completed his extraordinary life on Saturday 16 March 2019 in Newport, Rhode Island. Those who knew him personally lost a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, friend, and colleague. The U.S. Navy lost a national treasure: a widely patented electrical engineer who over a five-decade career was one of its great innovators in undersea warfare. Here at the China Maritime Studies Institute, we lost one of our earliest and staunchest supporters, and miss him dearly. Ky was instrumental in encouraging CMSI’s establishment and in helping to bring our early research on Chinese undersea warfare development to the attention of U.S. Navy leaders and affiliated experts—including at the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA)’s annual “Clambake” in New London, Connecticut. A committed and active participant in CMSI’s early conferences, Ky would constantly grab me by the arm and say, “Now Andy, there’s someone here you really need to meet….” As it does in so many other areas, his legacy of service and inspiration lives on in our work today.


Mr. Kyrill Korolenko retired in 2010 from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center after an extraordinary record of outstanding contributions to the Navy’s undersea warfare (USW) capabilities in the areas of sonar technology and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) for over 50 years. He started at General Electric Co. in 1959 working on the AN/SQS-26 (XN-2) Surface Ship Sonar. Then in 1967, Kyrill worked at Raytheon Submarine Signal Division until 1972. His major assignment was Technical Director of Bistatic Programs. Mr. Korolenko joined NUSC (NUWC’s predecessor) as Deputy Division Head and Consultant in the Tactical Development and Fleet Exercise Support Division in 1972. He was also Chief Scientist of the relatively new Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness and Effectiveness Measurement (SHAREM) program and manager of the Shallow Water SHAREM Program. The focus of his work was developing methods, techniques, and modifications to maximize the effectiveness of ASW systems. His involvement in international activities began here with a tour as NUSC/Navy Science Assistance Program (NSAP) representative in Naples, Italy. This tour earned him the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in November 1974 from RADM Charles Williams, Jr., Commander, ASW Force/Task Force 67, Sixth Fleet.

As Head of NUWC Division Newport’s Tactical and Fleet Support Systems Division from 1986 to 1996, Mr. Korolenko managed the highly successful Surface Ship ASW Analysis Center (SSAAC) and the KINGFISHER program, which developed mine avoidance capability for shipborne ASW sonars. In praise of his efforts in helping to establish the SSAAC, Mr. Korolenko received a letter from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The Commander stated, in part, “Working in the difficult arena of concepts and theory, your expertise, foresight and diligence were the key ingredients which combined to bring a fleet initiative to life… Your actions have epitomized the term ‘fleet support’ and should serve as an example and goal for others to emulate.”  Mr. Korolenko was awarded the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award in October 1990 for his achievements in the KINGFISHER program.

Mr. Korolenko’s experience includes working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Surface Warfare Development Group (SWDG), and Submarine Development Squadron (SUBDEVRON)-12 to develop equipment and multi-threat tactics for strategically important areas of the world. This included adaptation of DARPA state-of-the-art ‘Distant Thunder’ technology to Commander, 7th Fleet ships, demonstrating its capability at sea and future transition to AN/SQQ-89, resulting in increased survivability of the battlegroup. Distant Thunder is an advanced low-frequency multistatic active sonar system designed to search for and localize quiet diesel-electric submarines in acoustically adverse conditions, such as those found in coastal regions.

A most thrilling and professionally satisfying adventure for Mr. Korolenko, and a most worthwhile contribution to the area of sonar technology, took place while he represented Division Newport at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global as Associate Director for Sensor Technology for ONR Global’s International Field Office, London, UK, from 2000 to 2003. This position allowed him to provide an accurate and timely assessment of international S&T activities and developments. He was able to relate these to comparable activities and practitioners in the U.S. and to provide information on U.S. Navy S&T programs and priorities to international counterparts. From this give and take, he would identify high-interest international opportunities for productive collaborations and plan and initiate new collaborations.

Mr. Korolenko’s success as a highly creative innovator is reflected in his extraordinary record of patents. His inventions include such diverse technologies as a mine clearance and assault system, a retractable underwater turret, and a multi-frequency sonar system. He has been referred to as a “national treasure” by Battleforce 7th Fleet, Destroyer Squadron-15 and his expertise was extolled by CDR Dennis Morral, Commanding Officer, USS Nicholas, who, at his debrief in the Pentagon upon returning from the Persian Gulf After Desert Shield/Desert Storm stated, “Probably wouldn’t have made it home without it.” Then Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vernon E. Clark USN (Ret.), said that Mr. Korolenko has “spent more time at sea doing ASW than most sailors.”

In 2010, Kyrill Korolenko earned the Decibel Award for his phenomenal record of achievement with establishing Division Newport as a leader in sonar and ASW technology. His career, characterized by commitment, dedication, and professionalism, exemplifies the standards of excellence established in his profession and in the organization.

Mr. Korolenko served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force (1951-55) as a Tail Gunner on B-36 heavy bomber and is a Korean War Veteran.