June 11, 2015

Australian "Soryus" Will Not Be Off-The-Shelf - Much Larger

If Australia chooses a Japanese submarine this submarine is very likely to be fundamentally different from the Soryu Mark 2 (28SS) in several respects. Australia’s Japanese designed submarine:

1.  should last for 30 years in-service including the diesels, hull, welds and Lithium-ion batteries (not just the Japanese standard of 20 years) 

2.  should be made of a hull and welds that can be cut and rewelded in Australia, by Australians

3.  will be heavier to give it twice the range (12,000 nautical miles (nm)) rather than the current Soryu’s 6,000 nm

4.  will be heavier to accommodate a vertical launch system (VLS) which may perform other duties (divers, LDUUVs) making it a vertical multi-purpose lock (VMPL)

5.  is required by the US to have a US AN/BYG-1 Combat System which may (or may not be?) the new combat system fitted to Japan new Soryu Mark 2 (28SS).

6.  it may be true to say the Australia's version of the AN/BYG-1 has almost the same access to the US run Seaweb network that US SSNs have (?).

7.  unlike the Soryu Mark 2 Australia's sub will be fitted for and with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Mark 48 torpedos rather than Japanese Mark 89s

8.  like the Soryu Mark 2 Australia's will not have Stirling AIP

9.  this non-off-the-shelf submarine will therefore have specifically Australian only requirements. "Off-the-shelf" is more a political slogan, implying quick, uncomplicated and inexpensive. The reality is all countries want some modifications in major weapons systems and these systems (even "interim") usually take more than 8 years to be delivered.

10.  it is likely to be much heavier, perhaps 3,600-4,000 tons (surfaced), than the 3,000 ton (surfaced) Soryu Mark 2

11.  the heavier and Australian only features will make it much more expensive than the Soryu Mark 2 in terms of up-front price per vessel and this is not including all the very expensive backup-training-facilities costs (including translating 100,000s of owners manual pages into English).

12.  Australia will require the transfer of more secret intellectual property details than the Japan’s military have transferred before

To keep his job and win the next Federal Election Prime Minister Abbott (most probably) cannot choose Japan until after that Federal Election which may be as late as November 2016.

The first 1 minute 30 seconds of this video http://video.news.com.au/v/301610/Paul-Kellys-view reflects the political dangers to Prime Minister Abbott of giving the appearance of a personalised Captain's pick. Abbott likes to be photographed with weapons and with men in uniform but his submarine policy too obviously leaves out much of the Australian Defence Department's and Navy's advice.

If the choice of Japan is inevitable Japan can make the political risks of "Build in Japan" less by offering industrial offsets. The submarine builders, KHI and MHI, can offer much work for Australians in sectors unrelated to submarines. For example Kawasaki HI builds oil and gas rigs which could be built in Australia for the Australian market. Mitsubishi HI builds heavy machinery - much could be built in Australia for the Australian market.



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

so there we are back again to the Australian requirements, e.g. range, VLS, US (Lockmart) combat system, Mark 48, Seaweb network ...

I doubt that the Japanese submarines are less durable than other submarines. Japan had just no other possibility to keep its submarine industry going. So instead of maintaining old ones they just build new ones for not much more effort. Japan had no way to export submarines like Germany or France did and Sweden struggled to do.

The welding problem is not related to the inability of Australian workers. The problem is linked to the Japanese inexperience of how to supervise a license production properly.

Back to my main topic: The Australian wishes

A VLS is unnecessary because there are already tube launched Tomahawk missiles available. A big vertical multi purpose lock (VMPL) is therefor unnecessary. A horizontal multi purpose lock (HMPL) like the one planed for Swedish A26 is a far better option.

Access to a HMPL is far easier because it is located right in front of the torpedo storage with sufficient space. An HMPL can act as a huge storage space for additional weapons or other supplies. With an interior width of just about 1.8 m 7 additional weapons could be stored. At 2.4 m 14 weapons could be stored.

US combat system
You wrote the Australian version of the AN/BYG-1 has almost the same access to Seaweb network as the US SSNs. According to my knowledge Australian engineers did program a lot on the Australian system. A good programmer should be capable to implement such a program to another system.

Mark 48
The Mark 48 is wire guided. The Seahake Mod 4 is fiber guided. Mark 48 operates on Otto II fuel combustion engine while Seahake is battery driven. The Seahake offers more range at 50 kn speed. An electric propulsion system offers also less noise and no depth restrictions! Guess why Russian submarines have great diving depths against US submarines.

I can see no problem to fit both to the combat system. Australia may think the US can supply them with additional torpedoes in case of a conflict. Forget it.

Todays conflicts are much faster and you won't even have time to reload your submarines. It will all about how many submarines you can enable within weeks. That leads to the next item on the list:

The range requirement is linked to the basing system. With only one base Australia need submarines with a huge range. With many bases the need for incredible range shrinks. New bases are related to costs.

Price for Dolphin-class 2 submarines is about 500 million Euros (1 Euro ~ 1.45 AUD) A$725 million or A$8.7 billion for 12 submarines or A$13 billion for 18 submarines. So about A$7 billion left for basing.

Crew costs would also be lower because crew size of a Type 214 is just 27 men. The Dolphin 2 crew size of 35 is related to special weapons. Soryu needs a crew of 65 men!

Crew is another problem for RAN. It is linked to reputation. The dud subs reputation is at worst. I am not aware of the reputation of Japanese subs but I am well aware of the reputation of German subs. It could be much easier to find sailors for duty on a German sub than on any other conventional submarine.

How far away is the Dolphin 2 from Australian wishes? Are all the wishes worth the price? Could the required task be performed by other solutions for even less money?

Was the big Collins-class worth the price? Could you imagine what Australia could have done with a fleet of 12 Type 209 submarines?


Nicky said...

I do wonder why hasn't the Australians talked to America on getting used 688I's from America or the Virginia class SSN. I am thinking also they could have talked to France on the French Barracuda-class submarine. If they wanted an SSK with Range, they could have gone with the Type 216 SSK or SMX Ocean.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Two-shift system is adopted in European submarine operation, while three-shift system is adopted in Japanese submarine operation. The latter system requires an increase in crew numbers. Which shift system is adopted in Collins submarine? Ideally speaking, Submarine cost should be evaluated based on submarine’s life cycle.


MHalblaub said...

Dear Nicky,
There is one big problem for Australia with SSNs: crew size!
135 for Virginia-class that is 9 times the crew for a Type 210mod! Australia struggels to man 2 Collins.

The only advantage a SSN offers is speed. The price for speed is noise.

Range is a matter of strategy. Many small submarines can replace a few fast and long ranged subs.

Vigilis said...

Greetings Pete

re: "9. non-off-the-shelf submarine will therefore have specifically Australian only requirements...."

The public, and therefore potential enemies, assume all subs of a class, or at least a "block" within a large class are fundamentally identical. This has been inaccurate historically, even for a very small class (e.g. Seawolf SSN-21,22,23).

Whereas, common differences between larger blocks of Virginia subs are publicized, it would be very foolish for a hostile to assume every sub in a particular class is equally incapable. One or two may be immensely more threatening in pareticular situations than others, So, unless hostiles are able to positively identify an unseen sub by its actual hull number and can accurately assessany secretive and specific capabilities, hostiles must assume EVERY sub of the class is as capable as the least. It is not difficult to understand the degree to which this may frustrate spying.

This dodge provides the tactical uncertainty of a submarine shell game at a fraction of the cost to equip uniformly, an opportunity to match specific subs with greatest likelihood of mission-specific successes, and tne navy with somewhat of an opportunity to experiment for advantages that work best.

Should Australia not consider availing itself of some or all of these advantages in its next fleet, as well?



Peter Coates said...

Hi S

The crew of a Collins submarine work on six hour shifts.
This means that they work for six hours, have six hours off and
then go back to work.

Is that the way Japanese subs work in terms of hours?



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

It is very likely Australia has talked to the US over the years regarding possible Los Angeles SSN and Virginia SSN options - both buying or leasing. Virginias would present the only new-build option as Los Angeles have not been new build for around 20 years.

Virginia's large (7,800 tonnes surfaced?) size means we could only afford to buy and crew 4.

One could even go further than MHalblaub's accurate comment. Virginia's have very high crew requirements. To have adequate availability of Virginia's means two x 134 man ("Gold" and "Blue") crews = 268 crew for one Virginia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia-class_submarine#Specifications .

You are right about the Barracuda SSNs though they remain an unproven design until first one commissioned around 2019. Probably the main upside of the Barracuda is the possibility of Australia moving from the SSK to SSN version. One could perhaps buy 6 of the 4,800 tonne (surfaced) Barracuda SSNs which only have one 60 man crew. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Barracuda-class_submarine Which is very similar to the Collins 58 crew http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collins-class_submarine

The interoperability and combat/weapons system commonality with Australia's main ally the US then bats the issue back to the Virginia in the game of choices.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Vigilis

Yes most public take for granted that subs in (say Virginia) class are all alike.

The Soryu Mark 2 (from about 2020 on) will be quite different from the current Soryu (no AIP, new Li-ion electricals, likely longer range, maybe heavier). If Australia demands a VLS it may add 500 tonnes(?) on top - requiring different diesels, motors and slightly larger size hulls.

I'd assume China, Russia, India will have sensors sophisticated enough to distinguish Japanese Soryus from Aussie Soryu (SoryuAUs) but not distinguish between SoryuAUs.

Australia should indeed avail "itself of some or all of these advantages in its next fleet"

I'd say behind sail pods, detachable and swappable from hulls, are the best solution to rapidly change capabilities of SoryuAUs. Some subs will be better configured for divers and special missions than others. Pods may also have LDUUVs or extra Tomahawks.

A couple of Dolphin 2 like 650mm tubes might also assist operational variation.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete.

Thanks. Japanes submarine work is as follows.
Submerged operation: Team one works for 6 hours. Then team two works for 6 hours. Finally, team three works for 6hours.

Surface operation: Team one starts 4 hours working at 07:30 AM (07:30-11:30). Team two works for 4 hours (11:30-15:30). Team three works for 4 hours (15:30-19:30). Team one works for 3 hours (19:30-22:30). Team two works for 3 hours (22:30-01:30). Team three works for 3 hours (01:30-4:30).


Nicky said...

Hi Peter,
What about the Astute-class submarine from the British. How good are they and would they be a good fit for Australia. I know for SSN options, The Australian's can look at getting the French Barracuda-class submarine, Astute class Submarines from the British. I have serious doubts the US will give Australia 688I's or Virginia class SSN because the US is to paranoid about it's submarine technology being leaked. Though for Australia to go for Nuclear SSN, I think it boils down to the Astute class Submarines or the French Barracuda-class submarine.

As for sticking with AIP SSK submarines, I do think SMX Ocean that DCNS is proposing is one option. The Type 216 is another option from Germany and from France the Scorpene class Submarine as well. I know Spain is building the S80 submarine and they have Technical help from Electric boat as well.

Peter Coates said...

Thanks S [at June 14, 2015 at 8:05 PM]

With Team One having 6 hours at work I'm wondering what they do for the next 12 hours.

I noticed the US system is also 6 hours at work ("on watch") and then 12 hours off watch.

See Point 22 of this US document http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/faq.html :

"At sea, the typical submarine day is 18 hours long, not 24 hours. Submarine crews are divided into three watch sections. Each section is on duty (on watch) for 6 hours, and then spends 12 hours off watch. When on watch, the crew members are actively operating their assigned equipment...Under special conditions, such as battle stations and when entering or leaving port, everyone has a watch station."

"During the 12 hours out of each 18-hour day that submarine crewmen are not actually on watch, they engage in a wide variety of activities. Crew members who are off watch eat, attend training sessions and study, both for advancement examinations, and in order to become qualified to stand other watchstations. Others may perform routine preventive maintenance on the equipment that they are responsible for (e.g., a radioman periodically changes emergency batteries on some of his radio gear, an electrician periodically inspects the ship's wiring for problems, etc.)."

Do Japanese crews do the same as US crews for those 12 hours OFF watch?



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I think that they do the similar activities as US crew. During 12 hours off watch, Japanese crews engage in training, take rest and have free time [1, 2], but I do not know detail.

[1] http://www.ships-net.co.jp/detl/201209z/150-151.pdf, Table (Japanese)
[2] Original source of Table, JMSDF Kure Musium “Life in Submarine”


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Thanks for those references.