December 13, 2018

Retired Senior Naval Officers Propose a Collins II Submarine

Showing how debates in Submarine Matter's reflect more broadly held naval debates, below is part of Andew Greene's and David Lewis' excellent article in Australia's Government owned ABC News:

“Prime Minister urged to examine 'plan B' for submarines”

A group of retired naval officers who served at the highest levels has warned Australia is spending an "excessive" amount of taxpayers' money on its new submarines.

Rear Admiral Peter Briggs, Commodore Paul Greenfield, and Commodore Terence Roach have signed a joint letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging him to change course.

In the letter, the former officers urge the Government to consider commissioning a new generation of the Collins Class fleet.

"We are strongly of the view that the Government should evaluate a second option, at very low cost and without impeding the present approach," the letter states.

"The alternative option, that we believe could be cheaper, quicker and less risky and offer a greater level of Australian industry participation, is to build an evolved version of the Collins Class.''

The group has asked the Government to invest $50 million in a two-year study to assess the merits of building a so-called "son of Collins"..."

Australia's New Underwhelming Future Sub Name. SPA next year.

Quite underwhelming is the (current) Australian Government's not very original naming of the Australian Future Submarine as the "Attack class".

This will cause future confusion as the world's most common category of submarines (conventional or nuclear) are attack submarines. Whenever attack submarine is mentioned it may be necessary to distinguish between Australia's 12 future Attack submarines and the world's roughly 300 attack submarines. For example today's CNN Headline "3 US Navy attack submarines..."

Perhaps this most mundane name may have been chosen because the (current) Australian Coalition Government may have had to agree the name with the replacement Australian Labor Party (very likely coming to power in May 2019). "Attack" being a very low common denominator.


Here is the December 13, 2018 Media Release of the (current) Defence Minister naming Attack. Significantly, he also adds, in a low key way, something more important:

“I can also announce the negotiations between the Commonwealth and Naval Group on all key provisions of the Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA) have been completed,” [then why not sign NOW?] Minister Pyne said.

“I congratulate everyone involved in achieving this significant milestone.”

The SPA will be signed in early 2019 and will govern the delivery of the Attack class over the decades to come...."


The ability of the current Defence Minister to sign the SPA before the May 11 or 18, 2019 Elections may be curtailed because the Coalition Government has a minority in both Houses of Parliament. That is Australia's Federal Parliament is double "Hung". (Current) Defence Minister Pyne is unusually reliant on consensus from the Labor Party Opposition concerning the terms of the revised SPA.

Details of Coalition Government's minority weakness are that it has, in the:

-  Senate (see right sidebar ) only a minority, 31 of 76 seats, and

-  House of Representatives (see right sidebar ) only a minority, 73 of 150 seats.

This means the current Government may be forced out of office if the Opposition Labor Party and Crossbenchers decide to block the Budget "Supply" Bills in April 2019 .


December 12, 2018

The Care and STEALING of Towed Sonars "SURTASS"

An excellent JHU Applied Physics Laboratory (APLJuly 2017 Youtube. From 1 minute, 3 seconds it illustrates a US submarine using  a Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS). Great on submarine and at 2min, 34 secs looks like USNS Impeccable or a sister ship.

Following The Sea Hunter ACTUV's Over and Undersea Towing Abilities, December 11, 2018 an Anonymous made an interesting comment (below) on Decmber 12, 2018:

Beware of other countries trying to snatching towed undersea arrays. Even manned platforms can be victims:
“The trawlers came within 25 feet of USNS Impeccable, as part of an apparent coordinated
effort to harass the unarmed ocean surveillance ship. A crew member on a Chinese
trawler used a grapple hook to snag the towed acoustic array of Impeccable.”

Grabbing a Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS) array must have been a nice intel coup for China. 

I wouldn't put it past the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, North Koreans etc. to try 
grabbing the entire ACTUV if they had a chance. Hopefully, these will only be 
deployed in areas where they can be protected by other assets.

Compare this with the more subtle approach used by the U.S. and Britain when 
[stealing] someone else's towed array:
"[HMS Conquerer] was pulling a device long coveted by the British and Americans, a 2 mile 
string of hydrophones known as a towed-array sonar. It was the latest thing in 
Soviet submarine-detection technology and Conqueror’s job was to steal it. To do so, 
the bow was equipped with electronically controlled pincers, provided by the 
Americans, to gnaw through the three-inch-thick steel cable connecting it to the 
trawler. The name of this audacious exercise in piracy? Operation Barmaid.

[...Towed-array passive and does not emit a signal. It floats at a prescribed depth, trailing behind a ship or submarine, simply listening for enemy submarines. Because the hydrophones are spaced out, they can achieve a multi-dimensional fix on a target, and are less vulnerable to noise from the host vessel. The American and British navies imagined themselves to be far ahead in this technology and were disturbed to discover that the Russians were matching them."]

December 11, 2018

The Sea Hunter ACTUV's Over and Undersea Towing Abilities

DARPA and its customer, the US Navy, have been developing Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) for years. In September 2015 DARPA demonstrated a prototype of the low-cost TALONS, a fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve domain awareness. 

Towed behind boats or ships (eg. the Littoral Combat ship (above)), TALONS can carry ISR and communications payloads of up to 70kg between 150m and 450m in altitude. This is many times higher than current ships’ masts (only up to 61m above the waterline) and greatly extends the sensor’s range and effectiveness.

By October 2016 information became more specific. DARPA tested TALONS aboard the Sea Hunter ASW Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV). Compared to destroyer or frigate’s mast-mounted sensors the TALONS parasailing sensor array increased surface track radar range by six times. TALONS also doubles a vessel's electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) discrimination range, and more than triples omnidirectional radio range.

The ACTUV has a more effective anti-submarine capability when towing a kilometer long undersea sonar array. While towing this and using its hull sonars an ACTUV can interact with UUVs, seabed SOSUS sensors, surface ships, satellites, patrol aircraft, large UAVs, earth stations and command HQs. When an ACTUV tows a sonar array this frees up surface ships and submarines from towing duties. Ships and submarines can only tow undersea arrays at great expense and be vulnerable to enemy action due to slow and predictable towing patterns.  

An ACTUV can also follow a conventional submarine (SSK) for more than a week, until the sub's batteries and AIP have run out forcing the sub to the surface. 


December 10, 2018

Japan may use UUVs, SOSUS and USVs in East China Sea

To illustrate Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) uses of  unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) above and below are illustrations of a ASW detection networks utilising SOSUS with hydrophones also being used to relay data by underwater sound waves. 

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs see huge Sea Hunter more mature as the ACTUV) also play a part by interacting with UUVs, SOSUS, surface ships and aircraft. (Diagrams are now dead links (here and here) retrieved from still living Submarine Matters article of March 13, 2016 ).


Separately The Japan News (same as The Yomiuri Shimbun (?)) November 30, 2018, reports:

Unmanned undersea vessels (UUV) eyed to detect subs [especially slow moving SSKs].

"The [Japanese] government has begun to consider introducing unmanned underwater vehicles capable of detecting submarines and other vessels with a view to beefing up warning and surveillance capabilities against subs dispatched by the Chinese military or by other countries to the East China Sea, where the Senkaku Islands of Okinawa Prefecture are located.

The [Japanese] Defense Ministry intends to start developing prototype models in fiscal 2019 and aims to start operations using the unmanned vehicles in fiscal 2025.

The government plans to advance projects to further the use of unmanned underwater vehicles and also aircraft. When the National Defense Program Guidelines are revised at the end of the year, they will likely emphasize greater use of such vehicles.

The unmanned underwater vehicle the government envisages using in warning and surveillance activities is 10 to 15 meters in length and can be programmed to self-navigate in a certain area for several days or up to about a week. It will be given the ability to detect submarines and surface ships with its sonar, and also use its artificial intelligence to self-navigate and pursue these vessels.

As water temperature, salinity concentration, seabed topography and other factors have effects on warning and surveillance activities, and detecting submarines, the unmanned vehicles will be enabled to carry out oceanographic observations and gather necessary data.

The Defense Ministry has made an appropriation request of ¥ [US$37 million] in the fiscal 2019 budget for test production and aims to complete a model by fiscal 2024. The Ministry intends to install highly efficient fuel cells to increase the duration of underwater operations. The unmanned vehicles will not be given attack capabilities.

According to the Ministry, unmanned underwater vehicles for surveillance of submarines are also being developed by a U.S. company, and a prototype already exists. The U.S. Navy is said to be considering the introduction of this model.

With regard to development in Japan, its first domestically built model for underwater mine detection, a vehicle about 5 meters in length, is set to be introduced and scheduled to start operations in 2022.

The government intends to refer to further use of unmanned vehicles, which require no crew aboard, in the new National Defense Program Guidelines, as a way of establishing a policy of further adopting such vehicles.

In recent years, Chinese submarines have been very active in the East China Sea. As destroyers, submarines and anti-submarine patrol aircraft of the [Japanese Navy] have been conducting warning and surveillance activities around the clock, it is said that there is a chronic shortage of crew members and ships.

"If we can use unmanned underwater vehicles at all times, our warning and surveillance capabilities will markedly increase," a senior official of the ministry said.

On the other hand, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito held a meeting of their working group on [November 30, 2018], ahead of making decisions regarding the new National Defense Program Guidelines. Discussions were held on improvement of the Self-Defense Forces' defense capabilities in "new areas," such as in space and cyberspace or when confronted with the use of electromagnetic waves.

At the meeting, the government side explained to the ruling parties that it intends to include enabling the SDF to possess "cyber-counterattack capabilities," enhancing their capability to interfere with an adversary's electromagnetic waves, among other measures, in the new guidelines." ENDS