May 10, 2016

Why DCNS Won - Some reasons not yet covered in the media.

This diagram reflects the difference in detail between DCNS bids and publically assumed details. For example: Many people would be happy with "Weight 4,500 tonnes" but those closer to submarine issues would expect two figures eg. "displacement surfaced" and "displacement submerged". Some closer to DCNS insist the eventual Shortfin length will be "94" meters, not "97" meters. Also all figures are likely dependent on the results of a three year design contract that might be finally signed-off as late as 2020. (Diagram courtesy Financial Times).
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"BK" in https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19245896&postID=3317250524802114105 [7/5/16 2:49 PM] asked a question along the lines:

The difference between the DCNS and TKMS bids were said to be significant, others spoke of marginal. What is your take on that - was there really such a big difference in the two bids (apart from nuclear of course)?"

If I had the CEP Assessment Team's access to the TKMS and DCNS extensive bid documents, and unrecorded verbal assurances between senior negotiators (and politicians), I could more easily identify the big differences. This is also noting DCNS and TKMS would have offered the CEP Team vastly more detail than will ever be publically available. Some major DCNS/TKMS response specifications may vary significantly from the published specifications for the Shortfin/Type 216 concepts.

That said the following may be major reasons why DCNS won:

In terms of due diligence (with taxpayers money) there would be attention to whether DCNS offered the lowest upfront bid to build 12 subs or maybe for the first batch of 6.  
-  Australian Senate Commitees would object to revelations that any French bid was many $Billions higher than TKMS or Japanese bids.
- It is possible the French Government will (or has promised to) cross-subsidise DCNS to achieve the lowest bid. Money can be recouped (with internal "loan" repaid) through sustainment charges (eg. spares) placed on Australia down the track.

As the April 26, 2016 announcement that DCNS won is a Pre July 2, 2016 Election announcement for the Turnbull Government then Turnbull would need to feel confident that South Australian voters (and broader Australian voters) would like the announced choice. 
-  Turnbull would need to be confident DCNS Australia and DCNS Internatonal, would not make any significant public relations mistakes before the Election.

TKMS advantages of an advanced air independent propulsion (AIP) system and small crew may not have been valued highly by the CEP assessors.
-  this is noting there is little evidence Australia values AIP, since the 1980s to the present day, and 
-  there appears to be an assumption, probably valid, that the long missions (7 weeks?) Australia subs go on require large crews (about 60) to avoid sleep disrupted exhaustion.

The larger size of the DCNS Shortfin (compared to the TKMS Type 216) sub provides for greater capability upgrades, more fuel for greater range at 12 knots(?) snorting, more "heavyweight" (torpedo and missile) shots, more special forces in addition to the 60 crew.
-  this is not discounting the difficulty of converting a nuclear sub into a conventional one (with diesel propulsion and fuel tanks (with many buoyancy adjustments))

A major technical difference is that DCNS will in 2017 be able to point to the very similar Barracuda SSN hull as a vehicle for sonic and electronic emissions/stealth tests about a decade before such tests could be made on a TKMS 216. 

Also a TKMS 216 could only be tested in the same way AFTER Australia had bought 216s.

DCNS is dedicated to the very similar Barracuda SSN hulls so, Australia in buying Shortfins, won't have yet another ORPHAN submarine the Collins (for testing and spares) turned out to be. 

It still needs to be said that TKMS can offer no nuclear option if Australia changes its mind and (say, in 2025) actually wants "regionally superior" submarines, especially if China and/or Putin become threatening. 
-  This might mean Australia would want the Barracuda SSN for the first batch of 6 (2030 - 2040) and/or for a second batch of 6 (2040 - 2050) Nuclear Barracuda option for second batch.
-  putting complacency aside, an isolationist US alliance posture could emerge under yet another geo-political threat - one President Trump (see Trump's most detailed speech on foreign policy, of April 27, 2016)

I'll describe some lesser known reasons Japan didn't win next week 

Note a crew of "33" (possible for a one week (on average) mission for such a large sub) probably did not offer TKMS a competitive advantage. 33 is very likely smaller than Australia wants. (Diagram courtesy Financial Times)
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Pete

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Today, Japanese paper reported interview of the Vice Admiral of RAN currently visiting Japan as follows.

The Vice Commandant Ray Griggs (Vice Admiral of RAN) of ADF responded to exclusive interview of Sankei Shinbun on May 10th in Tokyo. On the reason of selection of DCNS as co-development partner for the next submarine, the Vice Commandant said “The circumstance of RAN that shall navigate a very long distance to the strategy waters has been greatly affected as factors to consider", revealing expectation of lengthy navigation performance in the French proposal was one of the biggest reasons for the selection.
*snips*
On the spreading view that the Australian government adopted French proposal to keep open the possibility of introducing the future nuclear submarine, the Vice Commandant said “that is just speculation. Australia which does not have nuclear power plants nor nuclear-related facilities cannot operate and maintain nuclear submarines”.
*snips*
For that Soryu type has not been selected, the Vice Commandant said “I felt the disappointment of Japanese government and I fully understand the disappointment. Then he pointed out "At the same time we confirmed the further progressive relationship.
The depth of our relationship is based on the fact that we share values and address common challenges”.
*snips*
http://www.sankei.com/world/news/160510/wor1605100025-n1.html

My comment
I think that things are not so easy. Anger against “Humiliation of Sydney” is gradually spreading. Australian government thought that announcement of April/26 was allowed. But, this idea was wrong because Japanese flotilla was staying Australia’ territorial waters at that time. In this point, I do not think Australia shares values with Japan.

Regards
S

MHalblaub said...


Dear Pete,

The crew size announced by TKMS for the Type 216 is 34. Due to other sizes this seems to be the crew for a 3-watch system with 11 per watch + commandet.

A smaller crew requirement is an advantage. TKMS offered space for 29 additional special forces.

Source:
https://www.thyssenkrupp-marinesystems.com/de/hdw-klasse-216.html

Hint: a composite propeller is mentioned as well as a methanol reformer.

We will see how the French solution works.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Anonymous said...

There is substantial financial windfall in being a state owned enterprise. The cost of money will be substantially less than what any private corporation can get on the financial markets. After all the French state is borrowing money at < 1-2% interests. Try to get the same if you are PrivateCo. And then one never knows what is the breakeven period a state owned enterprise will use in the business case. Things are much less flexible for PrivateCo. In addition, since Shortfin and Barracuda basically share the same tooling investments, there is less capex in the business case. Some of the R&D costs will be shared. And then there is the strategic justification of an election year (a French President wields substantially greater powers than POTUS). All these factors allow flexibility in pricing, a lot.
KQN

Ztev Konrad said...

VDM Griggs puts it as plain as possible, Australia cannot operate or maintain a nuclear sub, but the fantasy persists that there is an option at a later stage to do so. The all up costs alone would mean some other significant capability would have to be lost.

Its often forgotten that SSNs primary role is protecting other nuclear subs, especially the boomers. For technology/training reasons it would extremely difficult for Australia to operate a split SSK/SSN force, even if it was the Barracuda types.

Its certainly an expectation of hope (but not yet experience ) that the Barracuda will not turn into the Barracouda ( a totally different fish). Remember the F-35 and siblings, they have turned into more distant cousins than ever expected.

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [10/5/16 10:49 PM]

Certainly serving Australian Admirals are limited in what reasons they can provide about why DCNS won and Japan didn't.

It will probably fall to people from Australian thinktanks like: ASPI, Lowy Institute, ANU's Professor Hugh White and even Sub Matters, to provide more revealing reasons, in time.

On Turnbull announcing DCNS won on April 26, the same day the Japanese flotilla left Sydney Harbour (and was still in Australian waters) I thought Turnbull would avoid such a humiliation in timing - but opportunism won out. He surprised the Labor Opposition, Nick Xenophon Party and others (catching them with little to say) who expected more diplomatic timing of an annocement around 29 April.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [11/5/16 12:30 AM]

Right or wrong I think the RAN has found it necessary to boost crew numbers on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collins-class_submarine (see right sidebar) from "42 (plus up to 12 trainees) Increased to 58 in 2009". Regular long missions (not just occasional trans-Atlantic Exercise) reasons for that (I think) flowed through to the CEP selectors.

Perhaps after the problems of perception that Kockums had ie. Australia regularly has much longer missions than a week in the Baltic - the CEP selectors were worried about any "one week out of Eckernförde" crew thinking?

Yes composites for bare propellers may be quieter.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN

Thanks for those details. The shared capital expenditure for the Barracuda SSNs and Shortfin SSK may have been an important reason in choosing Shortfin - a bit related to avoiding "Orphan Sub" status (no repeat of the Collins) as well.

Of course the Shortfin will mainly be different in having conventional propulsion. That propulsion problems were and are the major problem with the Collins should not be repeated by a parent company now putting more money and attention into submarine reactor propulsion.

Australian taxpayers and voters won't like the Liberal Government if it is for decades perceived that it was a Liberal leader who chose wrongly, in a hurry, on April 26, 2016.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

If strategic necessity (an increasingly greedy China expaninging its posture south of the South China Sea) demands it Australia may need to look at the SSN option more closely.

The US Ambassador to Australia in February 2012 would have needed clearance from the President to raise the buy or lease SSNs issue http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/australian-nuclear-sub-option-afr-feb.html .

Considerations include the latest US made SSN does not need refueling during their 32 year service life and can undergo much maintenance in Guam Naval Base and Pearl Harbour Base (a short distance for an SSN doing 25 knots around the clock). "Always on" reactors promote use of 2 crews, much more use out of one boat, with high reliability. Perhaps only 4 Virginia's (ordered in 2030) would be needed.

And there are Barracuda SSNs, of course.

I'll write more in an article on this in the next few days.

Regards

Pete

MHalblaub said...


Dear Pete,

The basic requirement for Collins-class was 42 later raised to 58 might be due to the additional plumbers, mechanics for the diesels and electricians.

The question is about the minimum required crew. Is it really 60 for Shortfin? Add the same percentage like for Collins-class and crew reaches 83. From 34 its just up to 47.

Type 206 was for short range Baltic Sea missions not like the Tupe 212 for long range observation.

The Shortfin will also be an orphan like Collins-class. The propulsion system will be unique just like the integration of an US combat system.

The electric engine will be unique.

I guess that the Type 216 was and is also aimed at South Korea trying to build S-III with not much success. First sub was postponed from 2017 to 2025.

The submarine itself will be an orphan but Australia should use as much standard equipment as possible.

The engines are likely MTU 4000 just as used on FREMM frigates.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Anonymous said...

I believe the Virginia SSN tactical speed may be in excess of 25 knots while its transit speed is much greater, both are classified.
KQN

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [11/5/16 9:55 PM]

While I'm not certain about the Future Submarine crew figures, I'm under the impression the Australia customer wanted/wants 60. If TKMS argued the numbers it may have weakened TKMS's bid.

True that the diesel-electic propulsion arrangement will be unique - making it an orphan in all but the hull shape and pump-jet propulsor.

Choosing the Shortfin (a newly developed SSK) will involve technical risk and will possibly be more expensive than Adelaide building Barracuda SSNs for Australia.

As South Korea heavily relies on TKMS-HDW designs of the 209 and 214 much reliance on the Type 216 design is indeed likely. But the indigenous portion may in future include nuclear propulsion - a concept known for many years as Korean Submarine Nuclear (KSS-N or KSSX-N) see http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/south-korean-submarines-3000-ton-kss.html .

S Korea's delay for its KSS-3 (or KSS-III) program (for third submarine design and 3,000 tonne) may be partly due to S Korea pausing to decide whether its future submarines should have nuclear reactors.

Regards

Pete

BK said...

Pete,
thanks for this very informative blog. COuple of thoughts I would like to add with regards to reasons why:

1. As a government-owned company, DCNS is muc less likely to cease to exist as a privately owned enterprise - although the German Government had decalred submarine technology as a national core technolgy last year, which included special measures to protect these technologies.

2. The French Navy is operating on all oceans worldwide, whereas the German Navy has just gone beyond the North Atlantic and the Baltics, and is currently operating in the Med and in the Eastern IO - not forgetting operations like the HADR ops after the Asian Tsunami in 2004 at the coast off Aceh. In the RAN's view, the French Navy might be better suited to act as a "Parent Navy" then the German Navy.

3. It might be worthwhile to spend some time to read the transcipt from last week's Senate Estimates on Defence on 06 May. Interesting comments in there from RADM Sammut with regards to the propulsion system. But still, the Australian public is kept in the dark with regards to the French price tag - maybe the German $20Bn fixed price was not trusted, although there are indeed many happy customers out there who had been given (and promised) fixed price offers.

Regards,
BK

Anonymous said...

Price of LIBs for 27SS was revealed as 10.2 billion yen with significant hike compared to that of LABs which is 1.4 billion yen. As number of LIBs not yet revealed, cannot show unit price of LIBs. Once thought that 27SS and 28SS would belong to family of 29SS, but this is wrong, these two submarines will be LIBs type of current Soryu. Spiked price was not expected because MoD said life time cost of LIBs would be as same as that of LABs.

Judging from other price data, new snorkel generation system, new sonar system, blanket floating deck and new torpedo will be equipped for next generation submarine, i.e., 29SS.
The life cycle cost and maximum speed of 27SS or 28SS will be higher (+30%?, +25%?, respectively) than those of LABs-Soryu.

Peter Coates said...

Thanks BK [at 12/5/16 1:55 PM]

1. Yes its encouraging DCNS is more likely to keep on existing as major changes to Kockums during the Collins development https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kockums_Naval_Solutions#The_submarine_conflict may not have been confidence building.

2. The Kreigsmarine of course had a successful U-Boat squadron in Japanese held Penang, Malaysia during WWII. These U-Boats and others from Germany could probably boast they sunk more Australian coastal merchant vessels than scored by Japanese submarines in WWII. A German sub that delivered Uranium and Me 262 jet designs to Japan in WWII - is another story :)

3. I had a look at the transcript from last week's Senate Estimates on Defence on 06 May http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=COMMITTEES;id=committees%2Festimate%2F44f420d0-dc4a-458a-b401-ad02d938a599%2F0002;query=Id%3A%22committees%2Festimate%2F44f420d0-dc4a-458a-b401-ad02d938a599%2F0000%22

Conroy appears to be attempting to score points - not unduly helpful. Yes RADM Sammut has attempted to answer Conroy's trick questions on how propulsion, including pump jets, works together. Sammut also talks steel.

Senator Payne gives useful replies on where the $50 Billion is going.

[Defence Secretary Richardson usefully advises] "We will now enter into discussions with the French to finalise a couple of matters, which we are very confident will be finalised. We will then have around a five-year design period and then a build will start after that. I stand to be corrected, but it is my understanding that it is during the design period that you would finalise your detailed costing."

Regards

Pete

BK said...

Pete,

thanks for your comments.

To 1.: Could not agree more, although some of these worries should not exist with TKMS and the backing by TK.

To 2.: I think if you ask the Germans, they might not quite agree with your lines of tradition here - although in fact you are correct.

To 3.: RADM Sammut clearly states that the propulsion has its advantages in all speed ranges, which is surprising to hear. He also states that the first boat will not be operational until early 2030s, and from there on it will be a boat every two years. That goes well with the Integrated Investment Program (IIP) which is part of the White Paper 2016. The IIP also says that the design & construction will cost >$50bn, and the weapons & systems $5-6bn. You would need to factor that by three to come to the sustainment costs. Let's hope the French can beat $20bn in the detailed costing...

Regards,

BK