December 6, 2015

PM Turnbull Likely Making "Lightning" Visit to Japan Around 18 December

The launch of the second Soryu class submarine (502) in 2008. If Japan wins the submarine for Australia may have the temporary name of "Super Soryu" (a submarine with the major external difference of being about 7 meters longer than the Soryu pictured). (Photo courtesy Japanese Navy, known as the "Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF)".

Some Australian politicians feel that Prime Minister Turnbull has been travelling too frequently, lately, and so should cancel a visit to Japan in December 2015. However Turnbull is mindful of former Prime Minister Rudd’s diplomatic error in April 2008, when Rudd’s first visit to northeast Asia only included China, not Japan. Turnbull's popularity is still way ahead of the Opposition.

“… Turnbull [is] determined to visit Tokyo to send a signal of solidarity. It also had a practical side as far as the $50 billion submarine bid [is] concerned because there was the impression that Abbott had an understanding with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. [The main reason for the understanding being] the strategic argument of strengthening defences ties between Japan, the US and Australia would give Japan a priority.

[bolded by Pete] “Japan Inc” is so committed to the success of the Japanese bid that Australian officials have been told the Japanese government has told Mitsubishi the bid is not to be framed with profit as the priority. [that is Mitsubishi should not ask Australia to pay too much :-]

Indeed, some Japanese have told Australian representatives that the seeming success of the submarine bid was so surprising that they felt they had “gone fishing and caught a whale”. Originally the plans were for Turnbull to spend a few days in Japan to cement the political relationship and to look at the submarine project himself.

Combined concerns about international distraction, the need for domestic focus and the danger of Japan’s other whaling decision would overwhelm the visit have led to a trimmed-down lightning [short visit to Japan] visit as Christmas looms…."

Some Background/Issues that May Be of Interest To Some of Turnbull’s Advisers Going to Japan:

The following are some of the comments S has made in Submarine Matters Comment sections over the last few weeks:

November 22, 2015, 1:12AM Comment on Delivery On Time and Pricing

“Delivery delays or initial failure are not reported for modern Japanese submarines.”

“[The export cost of the “Super Soryu” Japan’s offering for Australia] “depends on Australia’s situation. Every year, the Japanese Ministry of Defense calculates life cycle costs (LCC) of major equipment, including submarine. LCCs are calculated based on proven data (actual operation). This calculation process predicts total cost from design to eventual disposal of equipment, and is most reliable."

Jobs and Training in Adelaide

"On November 30, 2015, the Japanese government submitted the [Super Soryu] submarine building plan based on the Soryu-class submarine to Australian government. Japan plans to set up a local training facility to enable building in Australia and to train technicians over up to 7 years. Japan believes job security is important in Australia.

For technician training, Japan will set up the training facility in Adelaide, to train local technicians in special welding. Training will also occur in the Kobe [Japan] shipbuilding facility [home of KHI and MHI submarine building]. The Japanese government presented this plan at an on-site meeting in Adelaide, in November 2015 [also see].

Welding may include gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). The Japanese Ministry of Defense reports that the welding strength by GTAW is around 10% higher than that by gas metal arc welding (GMAW). GTAW is one of the key technologies of Japanese submarine building. The USSR applied GTAW technology to weld pressure hull made of titanium alloy allowing some Russian submarines to dive very deeply [Pete comment: The high strength properties of GTAW is in line with Japan’s likely provision of NS110 (very high yield steel) for the Super Soryu. NS110 is very sensitive technology held by Japan].

See Japanese language article “Australian submarine construction Plan to present government technician training” in The Mainichi, Dec 1, 2015:

November 22, 2015, 1:12AM Comment on Pressure Hull Steel
“High strength steel for the pressure hull of the Super Soryu is very possibly NS80 and NS110 which is stronger than HY100”. [Pete comment: HY100 is standard high yield steel used by other countries to achieve safe diving of around 400 meters. Japan’s “NS110” steel is equivalent to a yield strength of HY156 and may permit safe diving as deep as 600 meters – providing a major safety and tactical advantage].

November 22, 2015, 1:12AM Comment on Key Diesel and Snorkel Technology

[the Super Soryu will likely have “Kawasaki Heavy Industry (KHI) diesels…KHI is the traditional supplier of submarine diesel engines and is also involved in [the advanced] snorkel generation system.”

One of the Japan Bid’s Major Strengths is Advanced Battery Technology

November 18, 2015 at 10:16PM Comment about Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs)
[Pete comment: LIBs will, very likely, be placed in the Super Soryu if Japan wins. Development of automobile (cars) LIBs has relevance to advances in LIBs for submarine] S comments “According to those researching LIBs, the development of LIBs for electric/hybrid electric vehicles are very important. Although anode materials have been developed, conventional cathode materials have some issues such as low capacity, high cost and low conductivity to apply to electric/hybrid electric vehicles. The practical capacity of current LIBs is 100-180mAh/g, but LIBs with high capacity (270mAh/g) and high capacity retention (92% after 140charge/discharge cycles) have been reported. In future, LIBs in automobiles will be realized.

November 17, 2015, 10:38PM Comment about Lithium-sulphur Batteries (Li-SBs)
[Pete Comment: Li-SBs (aka Li-S or LSBs) if developed and safe, may replace LIBs in the late 2030s. See performance graph that allows some comparison of Lead-acid Batteries (currently used on subs) with LIBs and LSBs] The theoretical capacity and energy density of LSBs is 1672mgA/g and 2567 Watt Hours/kg, respectively. The latest laboratory [tested] value of energy density is around 1300Watt Hours/kg (which reduces to 1000Watt Hours/kg after 50 charge-discharge cycles). Practical but limited applications of small LSBs in the near future are expected.

Pete comment: Submarines are inherently high tech and it is essential that all the systems work together in a balanced, predictable, safe, way.

S and Pete


Anonymous said...

LSB presents much worse volumetric efficiency than LIB requiring bigger space for the same capacity. LSB can only sustain a few hundreds discharges while LIBs are already in the thousands (Tesla batteries can do 4000-5000 discharges). LSB cost in 2020 is only projected to match today's LIB cost.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

Yes LSBs certainly are nowhere near ready for submarine or land vehicle use. Hence best considered years after LIBs are used in subs.

LSBs may only be viable in the late 2030s-early 2040s.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete and Anonymous

Batteries are very expensive and undergo several exchanges in the life cycle of submarine. As price of batteries significantly affects the life cycle cost (LCC) of submarine and price of LIBs is twice expensive than those of LABs and LSBs, we can significantly reduce the LCC by selection of LSBs in future. Of course, there are many issues in development and practical application of LSBs.


MHalblaub said...

LABs, LIBs or LSBs, all need to be recharged at sea. The range of a submarine is limited by its Diesel fuel. The most efficient Diesel engine will provide better range no matter which type of battery is to be recharged.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Yes LIBs will be expensive. So it is lucky MHI is providing the Super SoryuAU for a no-profit discount.



Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Yes whatever the battery acronym - they need to be recharged by a good diesel engine. We can only hope that KHI will acquire some of the key technologies of the new submarine version of the MTU, known as the 12V4000U83, which has been optimised for LIBs. See Asia Pacific Defence Reporter's October 2015 magazine pages 40-44.




Peter Coates said...

Japan will have to do better for full docking of a Super Soryu than Australia's inferior Collins. Program managers and other profit making interests may need to restrain their praise for the Collins and Australian submarine building-maintaining prowess.

Full docking for a Collins takes 2 years or perhaps more often more than 3 years - see

Peter Coates said...

Japan Press Weekly, June 17, 2015 newspaper reported continues from above:

The largest contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, supplied to the MOD escort ships, new air-to-ship missiles, type 12 torpedoes and other items too numerous to list, amounting to [US$2,607,437,775] 316.5 billion yen in 2013. The number of defense bureaucrats who obtained post-retirement positions at the corporation was 28 in 2014, which is the largest among the ten, following 21 in 2013 and 20 in 2012.

The second largest supplier was Mitsubishi Electronic which was awarded [US$856,788,400] 104 billion yen in government contracts in 2013 for weapons such as surface-to-air missiles and RIM-162 Sea Sparrow missiles. In 2014, ten former officials of the Defense Ministry obtained position with the company following their retirement from government.

Nine of the ten corporations in 2013 provided over [US$1,235,565] 150 million yen in donations to the political fund organization of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

While giving a large amount of political donations to the LDP, the military corporations are accepting retired Defense Ministry officials and making a huge profit through the sales of weapons."

Peter Coates said...

Due to the length of the Japan Communist Party's "Japan Press Weekly", June 17, 2015 article "64 retiring defense bureaucrats parachute into top 10 weapons manufacturers in 2014" much was blocked by the Blogspot filter.

But see whole "Japan Press Weekly" article at .