November 26, 2014

Submarine issues placing Australia's Defence Minister Johnston under pressure

Australia's embattled Defence Minister, David Johnston.
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PETE'S COMMENTS

The extreme nature of Australian Defence Minister, David Johnston's "canoe" comments on November 25, 2014 (see in article below) reflect that he is under pressure on 4 main fronts:

1. Although Johnston is dedicated and knowlegable about the military content of his Defence portfolio he is assessed by his ministerial colleagues and Prime Minister Abbott as being unsuited to the political wheeler-dealing, spin-doctoring skills needed of a senior Cabinet Minister. Perhaps Johnston is also not as submissive as Abbott would like. 

2. Johnston is politically vulnerable over the cost over-runs and lateness of the not yet delivered Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) which are being built by ASC (see below) in Adelaide, South Australia. Johnston is concerned the AWD fiasco will be the trigger for his removal from his senior Cabinet position - perhaps by February 2015. It is notable that Prime Minister Abbott did not support Johnston's "canoe" statements today. If Australia's Future Submarines were built in Australia it is likely that ASC would build them - again in Adelaide - as ASC earlier built the Collins Class (over-budget and late).

3. As Johnston is extremely reluctant to have the Future Submarines built in Australia all the South Australian and other regional union and industrial development interests want Johnston's desire reversed and if necessary his removal. These interests include some politicians in Johnston's own Liberal-Nationa Coalition Party. 

4. Johnston's and probably Abbott's preference that the Future Submarines be built (as Soryu submarines) in Japan is at risk due to the uncertainties of the Japanese General Elections to be held very soon on December 14, 2014. If the elections weaken the Japanese Parliamentary ("Diet") majority controlled by Japan's Prime Minister Abe, then Abe's support will be weakened for Japan's unprecendented policy of large defence exports that mainly center on Soryus for Australia. 

Also see widespread opposition in the Australian submarine industry and Australian Parliament to the Soryu option.

ARTICLE

Jonathon Gul for Australia's ABC News reported, November 25, 2014, on statements made by Australia's Defence Minister Johnston in the Australian Senate, Canberra, on November 25, 2014. 


"Defence Minister says he 'wouldn't trust' Australian Submarine Corporation to build a canoe"


"Defence Minister David Johnston has warned he would not trust the Government-owned defence builder, the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), to build a canoe.
Senator Johnston launched the scathing attack on the ASC in the Senate during a debate about where Australia's next submarine fleet should be built.
The Government is under pressure to build Australia's next fleet of submarines locally, rather than opt for an overseas design.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has since released a statement saying the ASC plays a vital role in supporting the Royal Australian Navy.
But the ASC does not have the confidence of Senator Johnston.
"You wonder why I'm worried about ASC and what they're delivering to the Australian taxpayer, you wonder why I wouldn't trust them to build a canoe?" he said.


Senator Johnston said the ASC was at least $350 million over budget in building three air warfare destroyer ships.
"I'm being conservative, it's probably more than $600 million, but because the data is bad, I can't tell you," he said.
"ASC was delivering no submarines in 2009 for $1 billion."
Mr Abbott's statement said the ASC had changed its submarine maintenance program and had exceeded the Navy's target for submarine readiness over the past year.
"This has improved the availability of our Collins Class fleet to defend our national interests," the statement said.
"Whilst ASC has had challenges meeting the Government’s cost and schedule expectations of the Air Warfare Destroyer programme, we are working closely with ASC on a reform strategy to improve shipyard performance and productivity.
"It is early days, but the Government is confident that ASC and its partners will successfully turn the corner on this important build."

[article continues] Australian Submarine Corporation worker 'disgusted' by comments

An ASC worker said he was disgusted by Senator Johnston's comments.
Pipe fitter Andrew Daniels said the Adelaide workers would never compromise on safety.
"We're being trashed. When I go home to my family and this guy is telling me I'm useless ... I don't feel useless and that's pretty gutting to 3,000 workers in South Australia and Western Australia," he said.
"It's not a great feeling to have your Defence Minister, you're out there doing your best job for the country and he's trashing you."
SA Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said Senator Johnston's comments made clear the Federal Government was planning to break its promise to build the next generation of submarines in Adelaide.
"We are outraged as a State Government and I think it is a clear signal that the promise to build 12 submarines in South Australia was disingenuous at best, some would say a lie," he said.
Earlier this month ASC general manager Stuart Wiley said it would cost between $18 billion and $24 billion to build 12 submarines in Adelaide.
The Federal Government had suggested it would cost up to $80 billion.
The Coalition's Commission of Audit recommended it consider privatising the ASC."
Pete

November 24, 2014

Russian cruiser Varyag's gunboat diplomacy in Australia's region

Russia's missile cruiser Varyag leaving port (possibly Vladivostok? in photo)
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Russia's missile cruiser Varyag, current pride of Russia's Pacific Fleet. Diagrams courtesy of http://www.the-blueprints.com/blueprints/ships/yachts/28603/view/ussr_varyag_(cruiser)/
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The path of Russia's cruiser Varyag taskforce from Russia's Pacific (surface) Fleet Base Vladivostok to the Coral Sea south of Bougainville and off Brisbane, Australia. This was in support of President Putin's diplomacy at the G20 Summit Brisbane (November 2014)
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On November 21, 2014 Australia's national forum On Line Opinion published my article below. References to submarines are in red. Article string is http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16875

Russian gunboat diplomacy in Australia's region

By Peter Coates - posted Friday, 21 November 2014


President Putin's unsmiling face only briefly darkened Brisbane's G20 Summit in mid November 2014. But Putin's frosty style was reinforced by the small Russian fleet of warships that sailed into the Coral Sea off Queensland. The fleet provided a reminder that gunboat diplomacy still exists. "Gunboat diplomacy" refers to the pursuit of foreign policy objectives with the aid of conspicuous displays of naval power. The fleet's appearance provides a golden opportunity to place some naval issues in context.

The Russian fleet consisted of the 30 year old missile cruiser Varyag, the old anti-submarine destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov and the replenishment-oiler Boris Butoma. Given the age of the ships (with cranky old engines) the Russians thought it a safe bet to also include the tugboat Fotiy Krylov. Escorting the fleet, but unseen may have been an aging nuclear propelled attack submarine – perhaps an Akula. Here is a short Youtube about the Russian fleet and its passage toward Australia.

As usual Putin didn't facilitate any diplomatic niceties. The Russian ships weren't invited and the Russian Captains didn't ask for a port visit when they were radioed by our ANZAC frigates HMAS Stuart and HMAS Parramatta. As well as our frigates, and despite official denials, Australia would have been remiss not to have placed a Collins class submarine on G20 security duty between Brisbane and the Russian fleet. Failing that a US nuclear propelled attack submarine of the Los Angeles or Virginia class may have shadowed the Russian force from its surface fleet base at Vladivostok (see map) then southwards to Australia.

Russian Interests

This Russian fleet display furthers such interests as: underlining Russia's great power and nuclear power status; that Russia is in military competition with China, Japan, France (with its South Pacific islands) and the US; that Russia wishes to protect its rising trade; and Russia is making an implied claim to potential South China Sea resources – to name a few.

The South China Sea is potentially worth many $Billions in undersea mineral and energy resources and perhaps military bases on the islands. Russia (perhaps working with Vietnam) wishes to stress that that sea is more than a Chinese and Japanese theatre. The temporary presence of Varyag flags Russian interest in that sea.

Australian Reliance on the US

A display of gunboat diplomacy is most effective when the visiting warships are much more powerful than defending warships or entire countries. This Russian fleet off the coast of Queensland was a reminder how diminutive Australia is in power and therefore how dependent we are on the US Navy to counter the fleets of great powers. If those great powers have nuclear weapons they are much more dangerous.

Australia's constant feeding of the US alliance would not make sense without adequate levels of American naval and nuclear protection. President Obama cannot diverge from the Asia-Pacific pivot no matter how distracting events in Ukraine and Iraq-Syria are. In return Australia: hosts US bases; maintains forces in Afghanistan; has returned to Iraq; and bought the Joint Strike Fighter for an inflated alliance-clinching price.

The US Navy, particularly its new age capital ships, its nuclear submarines, is more than a match for all potentially hostile navies (China and Russia) combined, in a conventional war or nuclear war. In contrast, due to the combination of satellites and missiles US carrier groups are highly vulnerable in a conventional or nuclear war. But carriers are highly effective in low level conflicts (like the war in Iraq) where airstrikes and large-scale gun boat diplomacy are required.

Russian Firepower

Returning to the Varyag – it is designed as a "carrier killer". This missile cruiser's role has never been tested in warfare. Perhaps the closest thing was the Falklands War in 1982 where the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano carried only a few small missiles and was sunk by a British nuclear powered attack submarine long before Belgrano was in striking range of British carriers.
The Varyag fields 16 large Vulkan anti-ship (probably also land attack capable) cruise missiles. These missiles can be tipped with medium sized thermonuclear weapons - each one of which has a maximum yield of 350 kilotonnes (about 20 times as powerful as the Hiroshima Bomb). One would be enough to destroy an Australian fleet or a city like Brisbane. Varyag's accompanying destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov is also nuclear capable.

The Varyag also fields several conventional missiles and guns of various sizes. In this boppy Youtube is Varyag's sister shipMoskva firing its weapons fitted with conventional warheads. A Vulkan carrier-killing cruise missile appears about 33 seconds in.

Russia's current naval force deployed in our region provides implicit rather than more active gunboat diplomacy due to its largely unreformed Cold War role as a carrier killing force. The Russian fleet is more organised to fight a conventional or nuclear war than project power in peace-time or during low intensity conflicts. Low intensity conflicts largely require air power, particularly fixed wing jets, massed helicopters and increasingly drones. Put another way Russia's ability to further its political and economic interests in areas like the South China Sea remains limited by its aging fleet which is built around missile cruisers like Varyag and Moskva. However France is building Mistral amphibious assault ships for Russia that may help Russia make up some power projection deficiencies.

The current Russian inflexibility in its aging fleet is to Australia's advantage. In comparison with China Russia in the Pacific also brings few economic benefits for Australia. With Putin, the Russian Leader for Life, this Russian negativity is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

About the Author
Peter Coates has been writing articles on military, security and international relations issues since 2006. In 2014 he completed a Master’s Degree in International Relations, with a high distinction average. His website is Australia by the Indian Ocean.

Other articles by this Author


November 13, 2014

TKMS HDW 216 or Soryu Mark 2 for Australia's Future Submarine?

A Soryu (Mark 1) in a Japanese port. Will Australia buy the Soryu Mark 2? I don't know what the hull nets are (pictured) - for security to cover sonar sensors or anechoic tiles? Or to keep the tiles wet?

Previous statements by Australia's Defence Minister, David Johnston and Prime Minister Abbott pointed strongly to Japan's Soryu as being Australia's future submarine.

But statement's reported today are more ambiguous. Indicators are that the not yet launched Lithium battery batch of Soryus (which I call the Soryu Mark 2s) AND Germany's TKMS HDW 216 both seem to be in contention. 

If the Australian Government is intentionally putting both contenders in doubt this is a good pro-competition strategy.

November 13, 2013 statements:

AAP via Australia's Channel 9 News reports, November 12, 2014   http://www.9news.com.au/national/2014/11/12/21/47/no-off-the-shelf-subs-for-aust-johnston#U6UexxeM0kQ8ou27.99 : [Defence Minister David Johnston is saying] Australia won't be buying submarines off-the-shelf because there aren't any in the world capable of meeting the nation's future strategic needs. Australia's future submarine needs superior characteristics in stealth, range and endurance, sensor performance and hitting power, Defence Minister David Johnston told a conference in Fremantle yesterday.
[Comment - does that rule out the current off-the-shelf Soryu Mark 1 (that contains Stirling engine AIP for which Sweden owns the intellectual property rights) from Japan? The Soryu Mark 1 also is not considered to have the 12,000 nautical mile range Australia probably wants. ]

"The next submarine will have longer range and endurance than any diesel-electric submarine currently available off-the-shelf," he said.

[Comment - Is "current" the keyword? Therefore is the not yet current Soryu Mark 2 still in contention. The Soryu Mark 2 will reportedly have Lithium batteries, no AIP, so implicitly more space for diesel fuel, hence longer range. Is the not currently off-the-shelf TKMS HDW 216 also in contention?]

That's likely to bolster the hopes of the South Australian government, which has been urging Canberra to ensure the new submarines are built by the ASC in Adelaide.

Senator Johnston said a design phase was needed as quickly as possible to avoid a capability and national security gap..."
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In contrast Western Australia Today (Australia's Fairfax Press) reports a greater likelihood of the Soryu, November 13, 2014 http://www.watoday.com.au/world/australia-moves-close-to-buying-japanese-submarines-20141113-11lpem.html: "Australia's move to spend billions of dollars buying a new fleet of submarines from Japan has moved a step closer during a meeting between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.
Japanese media reported that Mr Abbott and Mr Abe agreed their countries will continue talks on the transfer of defence equipment and technologies to Australia.
Mr Abbott did not comment publicly after the submarine project meeting on the sidelines of an East Asia Summit of leaders in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw. But he praised the depth of Australia's relationship with Japan as almost spiritual "in the depth of the links between the two countries"..."
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Australia's News.com reports November 13, 2014 http://www.news.com.au/national/navy-chief-tim-barrett-says-where-future-submarine-built-is-irrelevant/story-fncynjr2-1227120999364 : "THE build location for Australia’s future submarine is irrelevant but the nation must own the design and sustain the fleet, according to Navy Chief Vice Admiral Tim Barrett.

Warning against repeating past mistakes, such as costly brawls over intellectual property, he said the country’s security depended on a fleet of “available and deployable submarines.”

“We need to have a complete knowledge of the submarine we operate, a complete understanding of the design ... a complete understanding of every aspect of the boat, its system and all their attributes,” Vice Admiral Barrett said..."

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COMMENT

The Australian Government's more ambiguous position today:

-  responds to the competitors - encouraging the Soryu builders and TKMS to reveal more about their products and intentions, and

- responds to the various interest groups in Australia - most of whom want a more deeply considered decision than the apparent previous "have Soryus built in Japan" choice. Most interest groups want  most of the submarine building work to take place in Australia - both for jobs and so Australia knows more about the submarine.

Pete

November 12, 2014

Comments in Favor of TKMS and Other German Developed Submarine Products

In April 2006 a German Navy Type 212 submarine (U-32 pictured) sailed from the Baltic Sea to Rota, Spain in a journey lasting two weeks, covering 1,500nm without surfacing or snorkelling. Seven years later, while on the way to participate in naval exercises in the USA, U-32 established a new record for non-nuclear submarines with 18 days in submerged transit without snorkelling. 
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Regular commenter, the illustrious MHalblaub, has written some excellents comments of November 12, 2014, that:

-     -  Successfully refute some of my statements at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/submarine-institute-of-australias.html, and

-     -  On many aspects of submarine diesel-electric propulsion systems are beyond my level of knowledge.

So I have posted MHalblaub’s comments below so they can be read more easily on this blog and commented on at length. MHalblaub commented November 12, 2014:

“you write: "Repair facilities in Japan relatively close compared to Germany or France."

On the other [hand you earlier mentioned] that South Korea already does build Type 214 submarines. Therefore Australia has repair facilities [near] Japan for submarines designed by TKMS.

The engines are likely to be [German developed] MTU 4000 based generators no matter which submarine [is chosen - HDW 216 or Soryu] . In case of rechargeable lithium batteries the MTU 396 offers not enough power to provide maximum current to charge the new type of batteries. The 28 MTU 4000 are already in RAN use on 14 Armidale-class patrol boats. [see righthand sidebar of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armidale-class_patrol_boat "Propulsion: 2 × MTU 4000 16V 6,225 horsepower (4,642 kW) diesels driving twin propellers"]

 So Australia should know how reliable these engines are. The French SMX Ocean solution with six engines seems to be an ad hoc solution to provide enough power to charge the lithium batteries.

Btw. Dolphin 2 class might already have lithium batteries and the MTU 4000. Only for Dolphin 1 class reliable information is available. Dolphin 2 class is a black box just like Type 218. I still believe these submarines are just relabeled Type 214 with enhanced propulsion MTU 4000 + lithium batteries. The price of 1 billion Euro for two [HDW 218SG] submarines is just too low for more displacement.

According to the SMX Ocean there is a big question mark about the second AIP technique proposed by DCNS. It is not so easy to reform a high quality fuel (hydrogen) for a fuel cell out of standard diesel oil. It might work with very clean bio diesel but “dirty” standard diesel could ruin the fuel cells or the filters very fast. DCNS will for sure offer replacements … Standard fuel cells work with pure hydrogen and oxygen. Methanol or ethanol reformer work rather well with clean fuel. Direct methanol fuel cells are best feed with bio ethanol with even less contamination than standard ethanol.
 
According to DCNS’ video clip MESMA is the worst AIP system available for long endurance missions – 14 days at 4 kn are just 1344 nm. The 2nd generation AIP by DCNS with an expected endurance of 21 is not much better than the 1st generation AIP on first batch of small German Type 212: proven [submerged] endurance of 18 days.

COMMENTS

Australia by the Indian Ocean sorely needs Japanese and French advocates to support any case for buying Soryus or DCNS submarines :)

Pete

November 11, 2014

Submarine Institute of Australia's Centenerary Conference 2014 - No Japanese Delegation?


The HDW Dolphin 2 - tailored for Israel. Note the robust lower hull - for moving near the sea-floor, or sitting on it? Note also the complex rudder system - for manoeuvring this large submarine in shallow seas? 
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The vivid color scheme of the HDW Dolphin 2 (being towed backwards out of its base at Haifa?) suggests that Israel operates it in shallow seas in daylight.
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The Submarine Institute of Australia's (SIA's) Centenerary Conference 2014 currently being held in Fremantle, Australia, November 11-13, 2014, is a prime venue for submarine builders to offer up solutions for Australia's Future Submarine project.

Representatives of foreign governmental and corporate sales teams are present from Germany, France, the US, UK, Sweden and Spain. Many Australian officials, union leaders, naval officers, South Australian State and Federal Opposition politicians are present.

Two key groups not scheduled to give presentations are Australian Federal Government politicians and any representatives of the Japanese Government or Japanese corporations. Australian Federal Government politicians, after all, represent the ultimate decision makers on any Future Australian submarine selected. At the last SIA Conference, 2 years ago, a Defence Minister gave a speech, but none appears scheduled to speak (or be present?) at the current conference.

As Japan's Soryu is considered the most likely submarine to be selected the lack of a large (or any?)  Japanese delegation is quite odd. Furthermore no Japanese submarine builders or naval officers are scheduled to speak. Could there be a language barrier? Are Australia's Federal Government and Japan absent in order to avoid difficult questions or critical comments? Is the selection of Japan therefore a done deal that needs no further discussion?

In the very complex decision to choose Australia's future submarine the solutions of foreign sales teams have strength and weaknesses.

Japan - to be filled in tomorrow. Large design of the size Australia wants - in production, tested and operational from a strategically important regional ally. Repair facilities in Japan relatively close compared to Germany or France.

Germany - The largest foreign sales team speaking at the conference is from Germany. Germany's TKMS (including its submarine division HDW) is offering a large (4,000 ton (surfaced or submerged?)) drawing board submarine (the HDW 216 https://www.thyssenkrupp-marinesystems.com/en/hdw-class-216.html ) to the Australian Government.

As a fallback Germany may also be offering less risky prospect of the already launched HDW Dolphin 2  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphin-class_submarine  (2,000 ton surfaced) a brand new design with an actual submarine delivered to Israel in September 2014. The 216 and Dolphin 2 both draw on tested technology from the HDW 209s, 212s and 214s. The Dolphin 2 has been modified to suite the warm, salty conditions of the Mediterranean, Red and Arabian seas. It has AIP and a lower structural and rudder assembly built for sitting near to or on the seafloor perhaps for near shore special forces and to launch land attack missiles against Iran. These Dolphin 2 qualities might be further developed in the future 216. The Dolphin 2 may well lack the Lithium-ion batteries that are being proposed for the latest future submarine designs. The Dolphin's range may be only 8,000 nautical miles rather than the 12,000 Australia probably wants. With 209 and 214s being built in South Korea (and many more in other Euopean countries) TKMS would have the experience to backup any building program in Australia.

TKMS is also building 2 HDW 218SGs for Singapore. If, as is possible, the 218 is a 3,000 ton design the 218 may be a good solution for Australia.

France - A smaller sales team is from France, mainly DCNS - offering the very large SMX Ocean.  DCNS is claiming that the SMX is a conventionally propelled version of the existing Barracuda SSN  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Barracuda-class_submarine . This claim is difficult to sustain. The Barracuda itself has not yet been launched. Meanwhile an SMX would have many fundamental differences in internal structure to the Barracuda. The SMX's fuel tanks, and highly complex untested propulsion system (two AIP technologies, 6 diesels and large (untested?) Lithium-ion batteries) present major differences. The high weight (4,700 tons surfaced?) could carry high capabilities but also high acquisition costs. However, if Australia were to consider the nuclear propelled Barracuda itself, that may be a good choice noting that the Barracuda's complement of only 60 is reasonable compared to the US Virginia SSN's excessive requirement for 135 crew.

Perhaps DCNS is also proposing a large version of its existing Scorpene SSK http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorp%C3%A8ne-class_submarine, as a fallback(?). The Scorpene  which France may be offering, is a tested current design. Two Scorpenes have recently been delivered to Malaysia and earlier Agostas to Pakistan. This means France has experience modifying Scorpenes for the  temperature, higher salinity conditions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, where Australia operates. France has also retrofitted MESMA AIP into some of Pakistan's Agostas and AIP is available for Scorpenes. With four Scorpenes currently being build in Brazil DCNS has the experience to backup any building program in Australia.

Sweden and Spain - to be filled in tomorrow.

Pete

November 7, 2014

Chinese nuclear propelled attack submarine docks in Sri Lanka (in Nov 2014)



A Chinese Type 091 "Han" class SSN - the latest Chinese submarine that has docked in Sri Lanka (November 2014).
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Diagram of a Chinese Type 091 "Han" class SSN - courtesy of blueprints.com .
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"India Concerned About Chinese Subs in Sri Lankan Ports" 

NEW DELHI—India has expressed strong concerns to Sri Lanka for allowing Chinese submarines to dock at its port this month. China’s growing naval presence in the Indian Ocean region has opened a new area of rivalry for the two Asian countries.  

When the Chinese submarine Changzheng-2 [a submarine of that name is listed as an obsolete Type 091 "Han" class SSN] and [the submarine tender] Chang Xing Dao (aka Changxing Dao) docked at Colombo harbor for five days this month, alarm bells rang in New Delhi.

[Comment: That the submarine tender] Chang Xing Dao was on hand may indicate lack of Chinese confidence in Changzheng-2's aging Type 091 "Han" class design]. Changzheng-2 was not listed as being an active service sub. This may mean that that particular 091 has unmodernised features and old electronics - making it a less valuable intelligence item for Western nations to study.] 

It was the second time a Chinese submarine docked at a Sri Lankan port - after the first [a Type 039 "Song" class SSK] arrived seven weeks ago, India quickly warned the island nation on its southern tip that their presence was unacceptable to New Delhi.

Both China and Sri Lanka dismissed Indian concerns. Beijing’s Defense Ministry said the submarines were on refueling stops during anti piracy missions in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. A navy spokesperson in Colombo pointed out that in the last four years, more than 230 warships had called at Colombo port for goodwill visits or refueling.

That has failed to allay India, where worries are rising about China’s expanding footprint in the Indian Ocean, according to Sukh Deo Muni at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis in New Delhi.

“The fact is that the Chinese naval reach is increasing very fast, and that obviously creates some concern in India, because most of this area, particularly Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean have been a kind of strategic turf for India," Muni said. "Particularly submarine movement is a cause of main concern. Submarines are considered to be a more potent attack vehicle.”

While the two Asian giants' territorial disputes in the high Himalayas have grabbed the most attention, analysts say their rivalry in the Indian Ocean is steadily building up.

An Indian Defense Ministry report last year warned of the “grave threat” posed by the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean. It suggested that China is widening its orbit of patrols beyond Chinese waters to jockey for control of highly sensitive sea lanes.

The reason: much of China’s booming economy is fueled by oil shipped through the Indian Ocean from the Middle East. Resources from Africa and trade with Europe ply through the same waters.

In recent years, China has helped to build a network of ports or facilities in South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar and secured docking rights in Seychelles. China is also developing key ports in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa.

Global presence 

Security expert Uday Bhaskar in New Delhi says China’s efforts to find a toehold in the Indian Ocean are the result of its growing global presence.

“So for China given the profile, it would seek to maintain a presence in the Indian Ocean and China also internally believes that it is vulnerable as far as the sea lines of communication are concerned from Asia and Africa," Bhaskar said. "So China has been methodically trying to increase its political linkages and access in the Indian Ocean.”

While many security experts worry about the “undue Chinese presence” in South Asia, some see no reason for alarm. They point out that ports cannot be quickly converted into naval facilities.  

“Because the fact is in war time no port in the Indian Ocean is going to be available to the Chinese navy," noted strategic affairs analyst Bharat Karnad at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. "No port. Because none of these countries can afford to alienate India. They all rely and have relied heavily substantively on Indian security for their protection both in the past and in the present. I see this more as a shadow play.”

In Sri Lanka, political observers say that the maritime rivalry between India and China has provided an opportunity for the small country to play off both rivals against each other. They say Colombo is increasingly relying on Beijing for both military and development support as the Asian giant invests billions of dollars to develop infrastructure.  

However, Paikiasothy Saramvanamuttu at the Center for Policy Alternatives in Colombo sounds a note of caution about Colombo’s strategic tilt toward Beijing.

“It is a game, a balance of power game Sri Lanka is playing which could be quite dangerous, for a small country to do that, because as the old saying goes, when elephants make love or war, it is the grass that gets trampled on," Saramvanamuttu said.

For the time being, India has responded to China’s growing forays in the Indian Ocean by shoring up its own partnerships with South East Asian nations such as Vietnam and taking steps to modernize its navy."


Pete

November 6, 2014

DCNS' new submerged SSK solution - Lithium-ion battery and 2 AIPs


Presented on the DCNS Group' website on 29 October 2014 is

Three technologies to improve submerged endurance [for the proposed DCNS SMX Ocean]

http://en.dcnsgroup.com/news/major-dcns-innovations-improve-submarine-capabilities/

"To meet demand from customers for improved submerged endurance of conventional-propulsion submarines (SSKs), DCNS now offers dedicated hull sections known as Autonomy Boosting Sections. Whereas SSKs typically have a submerged endurance of about three days, DCNS now proposes three new technologies to extend this critical parameter to three weeks.

The first is a hull plug equipped with new-generation high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Easy to operate, the technology offers high submerged speeds on demand and improved response to power ramp-up and variations. Lithium-ion batteries can also be recharged at sea. The endurance of a Scorpene-type submarine is increased to seven days resulting in a significantly enhanced tactical capability.

The second solution, the Mesma air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, is packaged as a compact dedicated hull section. Mesma’s steam turbine-based technology uses a fuel that is readily available in ports and is ideal for extending an SSK’s endurance at patrol speeds. The sea-proven Mesma system increases the submerged endurance of a Scorpene-type submarine to two weeks.

The third solution, a second-generation fuel-cell AIP, represents a technological breakthrough compared to current-generation AIPs in terms of performance, safety, flexibility and maintenance. This solution combines several key DCNS innovations in fuel cell technology. Hydrogen is produced from diesel fuel by hydrocarbon reforming as required, overcoming the need to store hydrogen on board the submarine.

This revolutionary technology increases submerged endurance to three weeks; a capability that confers a decisive advantage in certain theatres of operations."

DCNS second-generation fuel-cell AIP.


COMMENTS

The complexity of two AIPs and one not fully mature battery type means some years of testing under  operational conditions would be required prior to purchase. Three weeks submerged within what speed limitations? Fire risks of Lithium-ion batteries and large stores of oxygen, ethanol and hydrogen within the one submarine? Reliability, cost, safety and speed comparisons may beg the question (or produce the reply) why not go the tried and tested nuclear reactor route?

For a description of existing AIPs (and Spain's proposed AIP as well as Russia's) see AIP Technologies and Section, August 5, 2014 http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/air-independent-propulsion-aip.html .

Also connect with France's DCNS announces the SMX OCEAN large conventional submarine http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/revised-frances-dcns-announces-smx.html

Pete

November 5, 2014

Future Australian Submarine - French and German Sales Activity

Two days after meeting Australian Defence Minister Johnston, in Perth on 2 November 2014, French Defence Minister Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian (front row, 3rd from right) was spotted (4 November 2014) aboard the DCNS produced Scorpene submarine KD Tun Abdul Razak at Sepanggar Naval Base, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. 
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It is natural that the French Government would be working alongside DCNS to market such a major potential export as the SMX Ocean large conventional submarine.

What may have been the initial phase of marketing the SMX Ocean to Australia at Euronaval 2014, Paris ended on 31 October 2014

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Now in November 2014 marketing continues with Australia future submarine needs likely to have been an item for discussion between the French and Australian Defence Ministers meeting in Perth, Australia on 2 November 2014

The Media Release following the meeting between Australia's Defence Minister, Senator David Johnston and French Defence Minister, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, did not specifically mention marketing weapon systems. However the Media Release noted:

"Both Ministers noted close cooperation on naval capabilities and the importance of continued exchanges. The Ministers concluded that France and Australia should continue to work closely on defence capabilities and to share best practices and lessons learned in operational and technical fields."

Corridor discussions with the French Delegation were likely - probably including defence officials, military officers and officials from DCNS Group Australian Branch (the Branch is based in Canberra).

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Later in November the Submarine Institute of Australia is holding a Centenerary Conference (100 years since Australia's first submarines were commissioned) 11-13 November 2014, Fremantle Western Australia. In terms of marketing opportunities the publically available program includes short presentations by potential main contractors from:

France

DCNS - Benoît Gueguen - Submarine Naval Architect, DCNS concering "The SMX Ocean, a world première" 

also a representitive of French company Sagem Defense and Security.

Germany

TKMS - Manfred Klein - Senior Vice-President, Product Management, TKMS on "Establishing a new submarine design capability: the TKMS experience."
     
TKMS - Daniel Mahon - Design Concepts Submarines, TKMS on "AIP - Reflections of a former German Submarine Captain."

also representatives from the German Navy and Siemens.

Note that a high level delegation from TKMS earlier visited Canberra in mid-October 2014.

TKMS Australia has offices in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia.

Spain, US and Sweden

Representatives of Spain (Navantia), the US and Sweden (Navy) will also be giving presentations.

Speakers from the Japanese Navy and Japanese submarine building firms were notable by their absence - reasons may be many and varied.

COMMENT

All this French, German, Spanish and Swedish marketing activity may be in vain if the frequent Australian-Japanese ministerial level negotiations going on now result in increasingly firm proposals to buy Japan's Soryu, Mark 2 (non-AIP but Lithium-ion battery). 

Pete