October 30, 2015

Now Two Americans in Key Australian Future Submarine Roles

Rear Admiral (retd.) Stephen Johnson (above) appointed General Manager, Australian Future Submarine Program in October 2015. Johnson joins former Secretary of the US Navy, Donald C. Winter, in key roles relating to the Australian Submarine Program. 

The other American, Donald C. Winter. He is the senior member on the Expert Advisory Panel for the Australian Submarine selection. Winter is also former Secretary of the US Navy and former Corporate Vice President Northrop Grumman. (Photograph Courtesy Northrop Grumman)

So with the appointment of Johnson where does that leave Australian Rear Admiral Gregory John Sammut who is still listed as Head Future Submarine Program?

Sarah Kimmorley of Business Insider Australia, October 30, 2015 reports:

"US submarine ­com­mander Stephen Johnson has been appointed general manager of Australia’s biggest defence project, the navy’s new submarine fleet. 

The ­retired rear admiral was in charge of the US Navy’s undersea technology in Naval Sea Systems Command, commander of the Undersea Warfare Centre and director of the Strategic Systems Programs, overseeing the TRIDENT II strategic weapon system.

According to The Australian, Johnson’s extensive experience running large hi-tech projects, including development of the Seawolf class submarine, earned him the politically fraught role.

Johnson will be responsible for choosing the $20 billion new submarines to replace the six existing Collins-class subs...:  see WHOLE BUSINESS INSIDER  ARTICLE


The appointment of an American, Admiral Johnson, to manage the future submarine project, so early in the project, is a surprise. There appears to be no confirmation, that is no Media Releases by the Defence Minister or PM. 

It is notable that former Secretary of the US Navy, Donald C. Winter, is the most senior Member of the Expert Advisory Panel on the selection of the future Australian submarine. Winter was appointed to that role in June 2015 but nothing has been heard from or about the Expert Advisory Panel, since.

Submarine Matters last month commented on the continuity of US influence in Australia's future submarine selection.

So these two appointments of Americans in key parts of the Australian future submarine program must have political significance:

1.  to the Pacific alliance with the US.

2.  does the appointment of Johnson and Winter almost, or certainly, indicate the selection of the Japanese submarine bid?

3.  the selection of the American AN/BYG-1 Combat System has been assumed as a given. Are the appointments part of a US-Australian bilateral process making that Combat System a certainty? 
See this February 2015 Defence Ministerial Media Release where it says:

"the Government has endorsed a set of key strategic requirements for our future submarines:...c) The combat system and heavyweight torpedo jointly developed between the United States and Australia as the preferred combat system and main armament."

4.  is the appointment of Admiral Johnson a milestone or reflect a lack of tangible milestones in the Australian Submarine Program?

5.  does it mean the Submarine Program and the 2016? Defence White Paper will be delayed? See the Brisbane (Australia) Courier Mail, Nov 3, 2015 "...defence sources suggest that the new Defence White Paper might not be released until after Christmas and possibly not until after the next election."

Having two Americans in key positions is not necessarily questionable. They may be the best men for the jobs. Equally Australians would fill such positions within the Pentagon-shipbuilding complex - wouldn't they?



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Japan is not involved in this appointment at all. Japan plays fair by the rules and is not interesting in fixed match. Australia has considered new submarine issue very well. Further discussion is not necessary for better or worse.

By the way, two days before, Businessnewsline [1] reported that DCNS's Barracuda-type has emerged as leading candidate of the next submarine according to multiple Australian sources and that Soryu was dropped out ! It is an incredible news.

[1] http://www.businessnewsline.com/news/201510281810020000.html, (Japanese) I could not find English version


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

I have toned down my article text regarding American political preferences and Japan's bid.

The difference between Japanese and English language is so great that http://www.businessnewsline.com/news/201510281810020000.html (using Google Translate) is unreadable in English.

However I have done a keyword search using DCNS, Shortfin and Submarine and there are no English news articles (that I have seen) saying DCNS has won and/or Japan has lost.

Also there is no "DCNS has won" evidence from other sources.

I would say that businessnewsline is trying to attract readers and attention without a provable article. Or does DCNS advertise on businessnewsline?



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

You are an honest and reliable person, I am proud of you as a reader. I found that the article of Businessnewsline on DCNS and Soryu is untrustworthy.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Let me add a different viewpoint that arose from the recent moves surrounding the South China Sea.
It appears the biggest threat to the US is the existence of Chinese nuclear subs armed with ballistic missiles that can counter-attack the US. And the US navy's patrolling over there could be understood a means to prevent an emergence of Chinese territorial water that enables free and hidden activities of those subs. And US will be strongly expecting the new Australian submarine program to help US contain those subs within the narrow water(by monitoring and chasing), in close cooperation among US, Australia and Japanese subs. If this view were true, the coming decision of Australia might be more reflecting the strategic consideration on the ease of cooperation among the three countries. This move have been, it appears, certainly strengthened by the US navy's patrolling of the other day.


MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

according to your informations about Soryu-class
I think Australia is in deep trouble.

The problem will not be about Soryu, Shortfin or Type 2xx, it will be the US combat system squeezed into one of these submarines.

As you can see here
Soryus also have an integrated command and control system.


Vigilis said...

Dear Pete,

Regarding M's comment:
"It appears the biggest threat to the US is the existence of Chinese nuclear subs armed with ballistic missiles that can counter-attack the US."

While the unthinkable should never be ruled out, the likely clarifies a truer perspective: (1) There exists already an enormous deterrent to a ballistic missile attack on U.S. soil or that of its allies, including Australia; (2) Counter-attack on the U.S. implies there would have been an earlier attack by the U.S. against China (a prominent U.S. trading partner)--- the U.S. has not been saintly, but unprovoked aggressions are beyond the pale of our national psyche; (3) Chinese nuclear subs are not expected to be stealthy enough for undetected transists or operations for quite a few years, as the PLAN well knows, and U.S. detection capabilities have not been at a technological standstill by any means.

As stated in a previous comment, world submarine navies are playing catchup to a fast moving target. By the time equivalent vessels are equipped with equivalent crew training, etc. the entire playing field may have evolved to something unforeseen by those stuck in yesterday's (or in many cases, yesteryear's) paradigms.

Just saying...


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I introduce two news, the one is related to Japan-Australia and the another is related to Taiwan.

Reuters Japanese Edition (Oct/25/2015 17:37 JST) reported “To submarine selection Japan-Australia agreement”[1]

Main article:
Japanese government officials said on Thursday 25th that Japan and Australia both the government went into the final adjustment in the direction of opening the Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministerial consultations (2 plus 2) in Australia in late November. The final discussions for the next submarine selection of the Royal Australian Navy will be conducted in the consultations. Japan also explained that correspondence to security-related bills would be discussed. Also, building a trust relationship with the new administration by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and maintenance of "Quasi-Allies" will be focused. This is 6th “Japan-Australia 2 plus 2” consultations ever since held in Tokyo last year in June. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Minister for Defense Marise Payne will attend.

Table “Envisaged Main Agenda in Australia-Japan 2 plus 2”
1 Selection of next submarine by RAN
2 Defense cooperation based on Security-related bills
3 Correspondence to advance of China to the South China Sea
4 Australia and Japan relationship as "quasi-allies

[1] http://jp.reuters.com/article/2015/10/25/idJP2015102501001379

Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate, aiming mass production announcement within 10 years of the new submarine development plan in Taiwan [2]. Taiwan navy is considering corporation with European submarine builders [2]. I think it is not issue of technology or budget, but is issue of guts which does not afraid of China’s fury and revenge.

[2]http://focustaiwan.tw/search/201510290019.aspx?q=submarine, “Tsai vows to launch submarine project if elected” (Oct/29/2015 CNA)
[3] http://focustaiwan.tw/search/201510310025.aspx?q=submarine “Navy officers visit Europe to seek help with submarine program”(Oct/31/2015 CNA)


Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at October 31, 2015 at 10:53 PM]

Thanks. I really appreciate your comments and value the contribution you make to Submarine Matters.



Peter Coates said...

Hi M [at November 1, 2015 at 1:31 AM]

The way I see it is:

- Chinese SSBNs represent a total war threat which is highly unlikely.

- The noise made by Chinese SSBNs and other technical deficiencies consign them to protection of other Chinese forces near the Chinese mainland.

- the Chinese Communist Party's unusually tight need for political countrol over its nuclear weapons works against reliance on naval captains in isolated SSBNs firing SLBMs

- China may need to rely on its current and future ICBMs for first and second stike for around two decades.

Even if China controlled the South China and East China seas these seas can still be blockaded and degraded by undersea sensors that may be strung between Japan-Ryukas-Philippines and Indonesian islands chains

Yes US, Australian, South Korea, Southeast Asian, Indian, NATO and Japanese subs may backup or operate with this undersea sensor network.



Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

I think you are right to raise the many unforseen risks of combat system integration.

The Collin's first combat system was certainly an unforseen shortcoming and the whole focus of Australia's Future Submarine debate and process has been away from combat system. All focus has been has been about what the Soryu, Shortfin or Type 216 can offer without the vital combat stem element.

I wonder why?

If there is any contest over the combat system it appears to be two American companies (Raytheon and LockMart) offering the same product, AN/BYG-1, with the same weapons. As only American companies need apply this duopoly situation falls short of competitive delivery.

Also this integration situation gives the US power of veto over an Australian choice between the Shortfin, 216, and Soryu. Having two Americans in key positions is an addition to this veto power.

Putting a more positive spin on it - hopefully the two Americans (particularly Johnson) can anticipate and expedite integration problems.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Vigilis

I agree that deterrent and increasing economic value of China to the US makes the US taking advantage of nuclear and conventional superiority less likely year by year.

If the US were of a "nuke because we are ahead" frame of mind it would have already nuked its main "enemy", Russia, before 1949. After 1949 the chances of Russian extended deterrence protecting China made a US nuclear option increasingly problematic. China entered the Korean War knowing China was protected by Russia's nuclear weapons.

Destroying China would mean degrading the world economy worse than the Great Depression not to mention threatening life on Earth.

So China, aware of these realities seems to be pushing the conventional envelope of island building in the South China Sea for all its worth. Watch this space when China builds on the East China Sea and other island areas.

China's actions remind me of Germany's Johny Come Lately Empire Building in the late 19th century https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_colonial_empire#Scramble_for_colonies



Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at Nov 1, 2015, 1:25PM]

On Taiwan Submarine

Thanks for the two articles in English on Taiwan Submarine.
I also located http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2015/11/01/449784/Navy-looks.htm .

Yes the Chairwoman of Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party has promised a submarine program if she wins the 16 January 2016 Taiwanese Presidential elections. Taiwan seeking submarine designs and sales (because the US has no SSKs to offer) has, of course, been Taiwan’s quest for many years. China blocking such a sale has led to no apparent progress.

Difficult to know if worsening US relations with China will make possible new Taiwanese submarines.

Australia – Japan High Level Talks

Thankyou for locating http://jp.reuters.com/article/2015/10/25/idJP2015102501001379 Reuters Japanese Edition (Oct/25/2015 17:37 JST) on Japan-Australia high level (2 + 2) talks on the submarine sale and other subjects.

I have located http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/26/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-australia-planning-two-plus-two-ministers-meeting-late-november/#.VjWVP7crIgt which is in English and will use it in my next article today at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/japans-submarine-sales-advantage-high.html