August 20, 2015

"7 Problems With the Japanese Option"

Comparison of the Collins with the three (Japan, Germany and France) Australian Future Submarine contenders - using open source information as at early May 2015.  (Comparison Table courtesy of News Corp Australia article of May 16, 2015)

Note there are several mistakes or misleading figures in the Table above. This is partly owing to the Table's mix of current capabilities and estimated future capabilities which may be in 10 years time (2025). Clear current mistakes are:

-  conventional Barracuda's surfaced Displacement is likely to be 4,765 tonnes. Submerged displacement would not be the 4,765 tonnes listed but more likely 5,300 tonnes if the Barracuda SSN's published figures are accurate.

-  Conventional Barracuda's estimated range (18,000 nm) is not current - it is what this sub may have in 2025 if Australia chooses it.

-   The Soryu's current Weapon Stowage is believed to be equivalent of 20 heavyweight torpedos/Harpoon missiles OR 10 torpedos/Harpoon missiles + 20 (smaller) mines = 30 weapons.

-  The Soryu's current range is believed to be 6,100 nm but the "Super SoryuAU" (name first christened here) estimated range in 2025 may be more like 11,000 nm.

-  If the Japanese option is selected Japan may well develop a fuel cell AIP (probably with German help).

-  The TKMS website for the Type 216 gives the normal crew as 33 - a very important figure in view of Australia's chronic submarine crew shortages. I do not know who or how "60" was estimated.

Australian companies and business groups, the South Australian Government and to a lesser extent other State Governments continue to press for "Build future submarine in Australia".

While the Federal Labor Opposition (Bill Shorten) Party also advocates "Build in Australia" it has already said it will honour any contract made by the Abbott Coalition Government (which may be Build in Japan, Germany or France).

The Australian Made Defence organisation in 2015 listed "7 PROBLEMS WITH THE JAPANESE OPTION" some of which apply to Build in Japan only but other problems may also apply to Build in Germany or France. The Australian Made Defence list of 7 problems is


"There are a number of issues with plans to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines in Japan.

  1. What are the risks?                                                                                                                          It is industry’s understanding that Japanese submarines are designed for short range, cold water operations. Australia’s submarines are required to travel long distances and operate primarily in warm tropical water. Industry is concerned that this and additional Australian system integration requirements will necessitate significant design changes that induces substantial additional risk if the submarines are redesigned and built in Japan.
  2. Will Australia have to pay for the development of a new shipyard and workforce in Japan to build it submarines?                                                                                                                   Industry has been advised Japan produces one submarine each year as an industrial and employment policy. The submarines are built in two shipyards; and those two shipyards are programmed to build submarines for the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force for decades into the future. Industry is concerned that to build Australia’s submarines in Japan it will require the development of a new shipyard and workforce in Japan thereby compromising existing capabilities in Australia.
  3. How long do Japanese submarines last?                                                                                         Because of Japan’s long-term shipbuilding strategy, industry has been advised the Japanese only build submarines to last approximately 15 years, as opposed to the traditional 25-30 year life of Australia Navy vessels. This means the Japanese do not factor major upgrades or overhauls into their design philosophy, which greatly limits the through life deeper level sustainment work available to be done by Australian industry.
  4. What will be Australia’s capacity to sustain submarines built in Japan?                               The more Australian industry involvement there is in the design and build of the submarines the greater understanding it will have of the design philosophy and associated intellectual property. The greater understanding industry has of the design and build of the submarines the more capable it is to do the deeper level maintenance and repairs. If Japan designs and builds the submarines in Japan, there will be very limited capacity for Australian industry to perform any deeper level sustainment in Australia.
  5. Can the hulls be built in Japan and fitted-out in Australia?
    It has been suggested that an option might be to build the submarine hulls in Japan and transport them to Australia for final systems integration and fit-out. Industry’s advice is that this is particularly difficult with submarines as they will need to be constructed in fully integrated sections which are then sealed as a homogeneous pressure hull. There is very little capacity to fit-out a submarine once the hull is complete.
  6. How do we go in times of trouble?
    Industry is concerned that if it is not intimately involved in the design and build of submarines constructed in Japan, how dependent will Australia be on an extended supply chain back to Japan for support and supplies? These security concerns are heightened in times of trouble when those supply lines might be threatened.
  7. Will we repeat the problems of the past?
    The Japanese have not exported arms or been involved in collaborative defence procurements in decades. Industry is concerned that Australia doesn’t repeat the problems of the past in relation to securing access to intellectual property for technologies and dealing with countries that have not exported their designs." Unquote


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Requirements for submarine performance significantly depend on design concept which is based on various factors such geopolitical situation, geographical conditions, technological issues and diplomatic relations. Therefore, the ideal design concept of submarine becomes highly country specific. Design concept of Soryu is continuous improvement of performance by batch building and surveillance of the sea around Japan based highly defense-oriented policy. The operation period and range of Soryu are purposely set to be short by optimized design based on this concept. Over quality and extra fuel make the submarine heavy (i.e., increase in size, therefore increase in resistance), leading performance degradation.

Design concepts of Collins, Type 216, Conventional Barracuda are long travel, long operation period and multi-purpose functions including deployment of special force, and are very different from design concept of Soryu. But, I think Japan can achieve many capability in the table “How They Compare”.

I think there two key issues, i.e. 1) development of new hull materials and 2) establishment of submarine building management system in Australia should be addressed.
1) I do not think that JSMDF agree with NS110 technology transfer. So new low magnetic and high strength for single pressure hull should be developed, but evaluation and testing will be very time-consuming.
2) Low performance of the management system is huge problem. It means lack of information security management, and how Japan shares top secret technology with Australia. Many people including former executive of ASC say that ASC has enough ability to build submarine without reason or planning. ASC must show planning of management (clear and measurable aim, training plan of people, education of people for awareness, internal check system, needed measures to achieve RAN’ requirements such as time and budget, corrective action scheme, etc.).

Finally, I will rather unpleasant information. German says that Australia is demanding in submarine deal.


Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
I think if Australia wants to build Submarines, they have to make sure not to repeat the Mistakes in the Collins. They should be more hands on and even allow the companies to build in Australia under Australian Supervision.

Anonymous said...

I assume S is from Japan? I don't understand everything in his very interesting post... maybe a reminder of the language issues if Soryu is picked?!

Contrary to popular opinion, my assessment is that Shortfin Barracuda may only require fairly minimal changes from the nuke boat:

1) Essentially half the hull modules would be unchanged. This includes the SSN's entire forward section, up to right behind the sail.

2) Behind the sail is the standalone nuclear reactor module. This module is of similar length (~8m) to the equally standalone fuel cell module. They can be switched, much like inserting MESMA before. The fuel cell module will also have space for fuel and ballast tanks.

3) Which leaves the rear propulsion module, where most of the changes will happen. The good news is that scaling-up Scorpene's diesel-electric propulsion should be straightforward. Diesels are a lot more compact than the nukes' steam/electric turbines+generators, so there is plenty of space in Barracuda for 3 diesels side-by-side, with batteries/fuel tanks below deck. I have checked versus Scorpene's detailed plans to confirm (these plans are available online... but hush that's a secret!).

So all in all, the biggest challenge with Shortfin Barracuda is not going to be the conventional propulsion. The real potential show-stopper is the U.S.'s willingness to allow the integration of a US combat system and weapons, and to a lesser degree questions about whether the fuel cell technology is ready for prime time (but the RAN may not even have a requirement yet).


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Just as Japan builds cars for Australia's specific requirements Japan can build subs for Australian requirements. Japanese car exports to Australia far outstripped German + French exports, of course.

As Australians often do not know what they want at the beginning of a submarine batch - Japan's "continuous improvement of performance" procedures should do nicely.

The Super SoryuAU (term first used here) will be heavier than subs for the Japanese Navy but greater engine power and a more hydro-efficient shape should maintain performance for the Super SoryuAUs.

Yes 1. new pressure hull steel for Australian welders is important and 2. the establishment of a submarine building management system in Australia that is up to Japan's high standards is important (a bit like building Mitsubishi cars in Adelaide)


"1)" Yes (on my own responsibility I say) NS110 should not be transferred as it is difficult to reweld and Australia's security system is not like Japan's.

"2)" ASC management system standards have indeed been poor as shown in the Collins and now in the AWDs. Appointing a Japanese senior executive would be a good idea for a start.

Thankyou for passing on Germany's frustrations. I'm sure Germany appreciates Japan's kind gesture :)



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

I agree. The ALP, in the shape of Labor's Kim "Bomber" Beazley, Father of the Collins, has a case to answer.

If the new subs are built in Adelaide sure as rain there will be a Son of Collins disaster of Titanic proportions.

Build in Kobe, Kiel or even Cherbourg I say. The Frigates and OCV/OPVs being built in Australia will be sufficient pains of extravagance.



Peter Coates said...


It is nice to hear from the French side.

What immediately worries is that the Shortfin Barracuda has a listed Submerged Displacement of "4,765 tonnes" (according to the Table) and a surfaced diplacement of "4,765 tonnes" according to wikipedia.

I suspect a surfaced diplacement of of 4,765 tonnes and submerged displacement of 5,300 tonnes which will remain true to the Barracuda SSN estimates and expedite the "minimal changes" that you describe. But Australia was hoping for a 4,000 tonne sub for at least one measure.

I'm a bit worried that Shortfin Barracuda's much heavier displacement than its competitors will mean higher up-front costs and running costs compared to them.

Also the buoyancy dynamics will be very different due to the need to place diesel oil in serveral (many?) fuel tanks around Shortfin - then the need to backfill them with seawater. The Kockums crowd sadly underestimated these problems for their "simple" hopes for the Collins.

Yes having an American, Donald C. Winter, as the most senior member of the Submarine Advisory Panel not to mention, hidden negotiations, may well work against DCNS. When Austrialia wises up fuel cell AIP should indeed figure larger.

The more competition by all three contenders the better I say.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Question 1 “What are the risks?” 1-1) Hull stability and operation temperature
The pressure hull is designed for operation temperature ranged from ca.-30C to ca.+50C. This temperature range does not depend on country, Literatures of China, Russia and Australia show resemble temperature range. Adoption of cold water-hull to warm water-hull is not problematic, rather we should beware low temperature brittleness in the case of inverse adoption (from warm water to cold water). 
1-2) Modification in increase of operation range
For increasing of operation range, hull must be elongated for carrying extra fuel. Soryu is the hull elongation version of Oyashio, but there are no problem related to hull elongation.

Question 2 ”Will Australia have to pay for the development of a new shipyard and workforce in Japan to build it submarines?”
In the case of knock-down production, I do not think that additional new shipyard is required.

Question 3 ”How long do Japanese submarines last?”
Design and building of submarine may be optimized for achieving given submarine life based on modern quality control concept. If submarine user requires longer life-time, the design and building will be optimized again. But, I do not think that it will not be big modification, because the safe ty factors are considered well in the original 15 years-operation submarine.

Question 4 ”What will be Australia’s capacity to sustain submarines built in Japan?”
If new hull material is developed by corporation of Australia and Japan, Australia and Japan will share the related intellectual properties according to contribution.

Question5 ” an the hulls be built in Japan and fitted-out in Australia?”
Modular building system is adopted for current Soryu submarine. Beside hull welding-connection work, involvement of Australian manufactures in constructing and installation of each module will be important issue, too.

Question6 “ How do we go in times of trouble?”
Trouble related to black box will be fixed in Japan or by Japanese experts.

Question7 ”Will we repeat the problems of the past?”
The Japan lacks experience of arm export. But, many companies involved in Japanese submarine building are very famous and first class, they export their products and some of them have foreign branches.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at August 23, 2015 at 11:42 AM]

I have posted your responses to Questions 1 to 7 as text in the Submarine Matters article of Sunday August 23, 2015.