August 31, 2015

Will the Shortfin Barracuda Design Be Too Heavy = Costly?

In Comments for http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/7-problems-with-japanese-option.html, August 21, 2015 2:54 PM, "HK" discussed the French (DCNS) entrant for Australia Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP)):

“HK” wrote:

"Contrary to popular opinion, my assessment is that Shortfin Barracuda may only require fairly minimal changes from the [Barracuda SSN]:

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 [see AN/BYG-1] and weapons [within the Shortfin], and to a lesser degree questions about whether the fuel cell technology is ready for prime time (but the [Australian Navy] may not even have a requirement yet)."

PETE's COMMENT

It is nice to hear from the French side. What immediately worries is that while Australia has an admittedly vague requirement for a 4,000 ton submarine the Shortfin Barracuda may be over-weight with a surfaced displacement of "4,765" tons (see right sidebar) and a submerged displacement of 5,300 tons. Presumably to maintain "minimal changes" the Shortfin Barracuda will need to retain the displacement figures of the SSN. 

With a heavier displacement than its 4,000 ton competitors the Shortfin Barracuda may suffer from higher up-front costs, higher diesel fuel usage and higher maintenance-spares costs.

Also the Shortfin's buoyancy dynamics will be very different from the SSN due to the need to place diesel oil in several (many?) fuel tanks around Shortfin - then the need to backfill them with seawater. 

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. Fuel cell AIP may well become a requirement when/if Australia recognises the need to have a backup for the new technology risks of Li-ion Batteries (batteries presumably in all three contenders' bids).

However the Shortfin's higher displacement may accommodate much large fuel capacity than the Japanese and German competitors. This might translate to longer range (18,000 nm?) or the same range (11,000 nm?) at higher snorting speeds than the competitors. Of course Australia will need to decide whether higher cost is worth the speed-range advantages. There are also many comparative factors that are important, including stealth, crew size and common maintenance facilities. Notably Malaysia in Australia's region operates DCNS Scorpenes and India will soon. Japan operates Soryus. Indonesia and South Korea operates German designs and Singapore will operate larger than usual Type 218SGs in the 2020s.




The photos above and below may be the only photos of the Barracuda SSN (also called Suffren (first of) class in existence. It shows the submarine(s) under construction at the DCNS shipyard in Cherbourg, France. This may be for French national security and/or commercial security reasons. The photos may be of the Suffren and/or the Duguay-Trouin (second of class)) under construction - perhaps taken earlier than February 2015. Photo appeared in the February 2015 article  http://corlobe.tk/spip.php?article37145 foXavier Vavasseur of Navy Recognition’s  interview with the Barracuda Program Manager.


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If this is the actual and final shape of the Barracuda (Suffren class) it has much in common with the hull shape of the US Virginia class SSN. (Artist's impression courtesy Navy Recognition http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2399)
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Here is a youtube animation of the "SMX Ocean" now the Shortfin Barracuda proposal, showing some future capabilities.

Pete

22 comments:

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

was DCNS missed to mention is the power transfer to submarine's propeller. In case of the Suffren-/Barracuda-class the power is about 10 MW (or even 2 x 10 MW) that is 3 times the power of the electric motor power on Type 212/Dolphin-class.

Oversized tools will not come for free.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
I think France is trying to make the Shortfin Barracuda look like the Non-nuclear version of the Virginia class SSN. I wonder they are going to accomplish this and will they make an SSK version of the Virginia class SSN.

Also you may want to read this on Taiwan's aincent Submarine program
http://warisboring.com/articles/taiwans-ancient-submarines-have-no-business-being-anywhere-near-a-real-war

Here's also an article on the USNI on the Yuan Class Submarine and their take on the Yuan class Submarine. http://news.usni.org/2015/08/31/essay-inside-the-design-of-chinas-yuan-class-submarine

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

I have faith that the French can scale down by 20% all aspects of the Shortfin Barracuda to make them competitive with their German-Japanese foes.

This includes MW power requirements and fuel use.

And need I point out that the Shortfin's proposed arrangement of 6 diesels and first time used French fuel cell AIP will be potentially safer (what could go wrong?) than any 2 or 4(?) x MTU4000s and proven fuel cell AIP for the 216 (now mainly evolved from large 218s)

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

I think France has made the Barracuda SSN significantly smaller that the Virginia because the larger the sub the more expensive it is to build, crew and operate.

France does not have the money or reason to build such a big SSN as the Virginia. One major size relevant difference is the Virginia's much larger crew (over 100) due to more stringent US safety and crew redundancy policies - compared to 60 in the Barracuda. Also the Barracuda has no heavy VLS while the Virginia has 12+ VLS missiles.

Thanks - I read http://warisboring.com/articles/taiwans-ancient-submarines-have-no-business-being-anywhere-near-a-real-war and had trouble:

- that nuclear propulsion for Taiwanese subs was not laughed out of the article immediately or simply excluded from the article

- that the author made the statement "...as well as other major producers of diesel electric subs such as Germany and Australia.." The author may be unaware that Australia has only made 6 subs in her entire history. Australia did not make these for export and these subs have been defective to this day.

- the final statement "Japan and South Korea are both working on their own indigenous designs." seems to imply that Japan is now embarking on indigenous designs. Better put would be - Japan has been successfully designing, launching and operating a large number of indigenous designs for the last 95 years.

Thanks for http://news.usni.org/2015/08/31/essay-inside-the-design-of-chinas-yuan-class-submarine . I'll comment on it after I write an article on Singapore's future 218SG.

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
Not a problem. I do think that France is looking to shape the Barracuda into the Virginia class SSN and use the Virginia class SSN as a benchmark.

As for Taiwan, I simply think they should outright go to Russia and buy Kilo class SSK.

As for the Yuan, I do think that the Yuan class SSK may simply be a cruise missile submarine.

Anonymous said...

Hi

As far as I know, the Taiwanese navy has never been interested in buying any SSNs. They know too well that it would be way to expensive to buy and use.
In general, I think the War is boring-article was a bit sloppy written.

I also doubt that Russia would sell them Kilo-class SSKs, Russia and China have grown closer lately so doubt that Russia would like to rock the boat. With that said the cooperation between China and Russia isnt a very warm one, its more due to the necessity from both sides. China needs raw material and want some specific military systems and Russia need to get money in from abroad.

Regards
/C

Anonymous said...

Having given it some more thought, Shortfin Barracuda could well displace only ~4,200t (surfaced).

DCNS are on record saying that Shortfin is smaller than Barracuda. So... the obvious solution is to remove the nuclear reactor module. See profile view below, from the excellent Navy Recognition website: this ~8m long module (under the deck shelter) is not needed in the SSK. In SMX Ocean it was converted to a VLS launcher (with space to spare - likely for part of the AIP fuel cell/battery modules).

Delete it, and voila! That's ~500m3 saved... or 500t in displacement, as designers typically aim for neutral buoyancy.

This does have the unfortunate consequence of eliminating AIP, however. Also likely to reduce fuel, and therefore range.

As for the rest of the sub, the forward sections up to the deck shelter are likely common to both the SSK and SSN designs. The steam turbine propulsion module in the rear is big enough to accommodate 6 diesels, with space below for more batteries (in pink) and fuel. The electric module (in red) is sized for ~10MW, and probably does not need to be changed much.

If true, this would cut down Shortfin's design and production costs, as well as risk.

[img]www.navyrecognition.com/images/stories/news/2015/february/Focus_Barracuda_Suffren_class_SSN_SNA_French_Navy_Marine_Nationale_DCNS_4.jpg[/img]

(Source: http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?id=2399&option=com_content)

-HK

MHalblaub said...

Dear HK,

didn't you mention that the reactor space should be used for the AIP system?

The Suffren-class is already equiped with 2 small diesel engines with 480 kW each:
http://www.sous-mama.org/IMG/BarracudaSite02.jpg

The next thing would be that an electric submarine would need more batteries than a nuclear one and diesel tanks.

In case a shorter Suffren-class submarine with diesel engiens is possible the submarine will encounter another small problem. The ratio of length to diameter is not ideal as for the original design.

You also remind me that the propeller is driven via the turbo reducer groups. A gearbox to drive the propeller directly without the need to transfer the energie first into electricity. The propeller is driven by 10 MW electry power and also by the far higher powerful turbo reducers. The whole system has to be reduced to electricty only. Therefor the Shortfin would need a complete new propulsion system.

Here another nice picture:
http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/SHIP_SSN_Barracuda_Cutaway_lg.jpg

Regards,
MHalblaub

Archimedes said...

Hi Pete,

You have mentioned the 218SG but it is my understanding that they are just 214 with a few more feet. So I guess it is a bit far stretched to consider that the good stuff from the 218SG will help the 216.
Moreover, few people are questioning the ability of TKMS to upscale. It is fair to say that Navantia screwed up with the S80 thinking it would be a piece of cake to do it from the Scorpene they built for the French...
IMHO, 216 is even more risky than Soryu or Barracuda as it is definitely a paper submarine compared to the others...
And finally, you speak of sea proven fuel cells for the German. Point taken. But my point is that it is not that much the fuel cells that are an issue, as you can supply proven products from different suppliers, but the way to deliver hydrogen to them...
On that last aspect, I am unsure the Germans are so advanced with the methanol reformer included in the 216's design compared to the French solution...
As far as the Japs are concerned, they are doomed by the limited power delivered by Stirling, and scaling up is more volume consuming than fuel cells.

@Nicky : I understand what you say, but I am not sure Virginia and Barracuda are worth comparing. As Pete said, they are definitely tailored to different needs and budget, and stem from different design philosophies. That being said, I think you are spot on for Taiwan in terms of solution for their alleged requirements. I guess the remaining hurdle is the political context.

@HK: I think you are on the right track to spot what the French proposal is: many of us focused on SMX Ocean, but I reckon DCNS mentioned that their Shortfin is an evolution from SMX. Your description has a lot of merits and I am curious to see what the Shortfin will look like at the end of the day.

Interesting times...

Archi.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Barracuda's power train, the E-motor is directly coupled to the propeller, for acoustic reasons. The reduction gear is only mechanically engaged to shaft and steam turbine at high speeds (likely ~20+kts).

So switching from SSN to SSK is easy : keep the e-motor, eliminate the reduction gear, steam turbine, turbo generators, and associated steam cycle equipment. Replace with 6 diesel generators. These are much more compact and can all fit on one deck. The batteries and fuel tanks go underneath.

Not sure what the thinking will be on whether to keep the 2 back-up 480kw generators currently located midships. Makes sense to replace them with batteries IMHO.

-HK

Imacca said...

From the post and discussion it sounds like the Shortfin Barracuda is technically a reasonably viable option for Australia. Will be interesting to see what DCNS come up with regarding Australian build options? I'm wondering if it will be an offer to build some boats in Australia and some in France??

The big issue though will be IF we and get a US combat/weapons system installed and that's political.

One thing i am not clear on though is will the DCNS boat include VLS that can accommodate US made weapons, and is that even a hard and fast requirement for the Australian build?

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky and /C

Other reasons Taiwan would not consider Russian submarines are that Taiwan has relied for more than 60 years on US political support, US weapons provision and US assurances that the US would resist a Chinese assault on Taiwan. Taiwan is unlikely to risk eroding US support by buying subs off Russia-Putin.

I think the Yuan is an all round SSK (with AIP) like many other all round SSKs. I think advanced Yuans and China’s next generation SSKs will also have increasing vertically launched, long range cruise capabilities.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub and -HK

Thanks for many interesting points about the rearrangements necessary to make the Shortfin Barracuda a viable, well-powered contestant in the future sub CEP race. The more competition the better for Australia.

I'll carry over your points and images to a future article.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Archimedes

Next article I will present proof (as we know it) that the 218 is considerably larger than the 212/214 and more like in the Dolphin 2 league size-wise. The 218 is an evolutionary step in the direction of the much larger 216 design because these sub designs are all products of the ideas and problem solving of the TKMS-HDW design house.

I think it marketing fiction that experienced designers would start with a "blank sheet of paper" (update that to "blank hard-disk"). It is smarter not to reinvent the wheel.

Hence the Japanese and French bids very much rely on claims that they are to a considerablee degree working with existing designs and on sound corporate experience.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Imacca

DCNS, TKMS and the Japan bid team have all been asked to present 3 build options along the lines: an overseas build; build all in Australia; a hybrid build oversea AND in Australia. It is up to the Australian Federal Government to decide which bidder and build mode wins.

I think choice of the US combat/weapons system was made long before May 2013 ( http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2013/05/03/prime-minister-minister-for-defence-and-minister-for-defence-materiel-joint-media-release-2013-defence-white-paper-the-future-submarine-program-2/ ) not only for "political" reasons but for technical and military (alliance) reasons. I think continual use of the US combat system (already used in the Collins) is partly an investment in the US's vast undersea database - covering "SeaWeb" all sensor platfoms including fixed undersea arrays, down to the level of acoustic signatures for individual ("potential enemy") submarines.

I think the US combate system is overtly tied to the US Mark 48 torpedo and Harpoon missile (both used in Collins) and Tomahawk long range cruise missile (Collins was fitted for but not with), mines could come from UK or US. I don't think there is much room for Japan, TKMS or DCNS to provide other weapons.

Vertical multi purpose lock is a (or the) most current launch technology for Tomahawk. A horizontal multi-purpose lock idea (maybe 1.5 meter diameter) might also be an option to launch 6 Tomahawks or other uses.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...


Hi Pete

By the way, I read some Chinese articles which suggest that TKMS will offer Type 214 technology to China [1, 2].

[1] http://blog.sina.cn/dpool/blog/ArtRead.php?nid=4ccdd2750102v2a1&pos=6&vt=3
“奥巴马破口大骂:德国竟将U214型潜艇技术卖给中国[阅]” (Obama shouted: Germany trying to shift the U214 submarine technology to China)
[2] http://wap.shijiemil.com/view/4866851/
“美国无力阻拦:德国把这一关键技术卖给中国”(America’s inability to stop –Germany puts this technology to China)- 触屏版
“近日,NSL学会的亚洲海军发展顾问约翰博士称,德国海军在未经政府批准的情况下,向中国转让其最新装备的U-214型潜艇技术,中国正借此发展自身的第四代常规潜艇”(Recently, the Asian Development Adviser Dr. John NSL Naval Academy, said the German navy in the case without government approval, the transfer to China its latest equipment, U-214 submarine technology, whereby China is developing its own fourth-generation conventional submarines)

Regards
S


Anonymous said...

And French has been openly bidding to lift the arms embargo to china as well.

It seems option J is the only secure choice for SEA1000

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

German designed submarines already fired Mark 48 torpedoes and also Harpoon missiles. Raytheon will sell the missile and the proper information to program any combat system like Boeing did for the Harpoon missile.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at September 3, 2015 at 8:42 AM]

That TKMS-HDW is already entrusted with designing-building submarines with combat systems that can take the Mark 48 and Harpoon is a major advantage over the French competitor for the Australian Future sub.

Whether the US will allow transfer of Tomahawk launch technology to TKMS is something else. The concern that TKMS might transfer knowledge to Israel, via the Dolphin 2 program, may be a concern.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at September 2, 2015 at 10:36 PM]

I don't know enough about the alleged Type 214 to China issue.

The first reference [1] http://blog.sina.cn/dpool/blog/ArtRead.php?nid=4ccdd2750102v2a1&pos=6&vt=3
seems a dead link

Second reference http://wap.shijiemil.com/view/4866851/ may be from a Chinese language TAIWAN source as Taiwan-bloggers/news often exploit Western ignorance.

If mainland Chinese http://wap.shijiemil.com/view/4866851/ may be a way to split US-German relations.

Need to keep in mind Sweden has supplied Stirling AIP to China, German marine engines have gone to China for years and many other European allies (and Israel) have helped China with military technology.

KHI/MHI may have competitive reasons to beatup the alleged 214 to China issue.

Regards

Pete

alan B'Stard M P said...

I read in another article the SMX ocean is a different sub again to the Shortfin. The former being looked at by Canada

Is this correct?

Peter Coates said...

Hi alan B'Stard M P

Yes the SMX Ocean was only a design concept presented at France's Euronaval 2014. http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/frances-concept-smx-ocean-ssk-and-other.html

In contrast the Shortfin is a conventional version of France's Barracuda SSN, Shortfin is a large conventional submarine design that is definitly being sold by DCNS to Australia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Barracuda-class_submarine#Shortfin_Barracuda_conventional_variant

Canada is also considering large conventional submarines (in the 2030s) to follow its current Victoria class. Canada like Australia needs large subs for its large area and long distances. Also Canada needs a large submarine with AIP to fully submerge under ice for periods up to 2 or 3 weeks.

Regards

Pete